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Pottery Demonstration: Karen Abeita (Hopi-Tewa/Isleta Pueblo)
MIAC’s very successful Native Pottery Demonstration Series is going virtual–the second Wednesday of each month, starting February 2021. Mark your calendar!

“I am Po’ Tsah Weh (Blue Water in Tewa). My English name is Karen Abeita. I am half Tewa and half Isleta Pueblo. I have been raised in a traditional Tewa home, speaking the language and still reside in Polacca, Arizona.”

Abeita has been a potter for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother Mamie Nahoodyce, along with several aunts, were all well-known and respected potters, and her childhood friend, Fawn Navasie, was her teacher, showing her how to mold large pots, how to fire with sheep manure, and most of all, how to respect the clay and always pray. All of Abeita’s pottery is hand coiled using only a piece of gourd and her two hands as tools. Ranging from 3” to 24” in diameter and height, her pottery is painted using a yucca brush and mustard seed paint, and she fires her clay outside using sheep manure.

Her designs are usually duplicates of prehistoric pottery, mainly from the ancestral village of Sikatki. Abeyta says she “loves to stand on the highest point [of the site] and let my imagination take me back in time when there was a village here. Was did the potter think when she uncovered her pot? Did other ladies come to see what she created? I spend hours and hours walking through the ruins looking at the shards and copying them into my sketchbook. Once I get pages filled with designs, I will then begin a what I call a ‘shard pot.’ It will consist of several hundred designs, never the same size or shape. It is very time consuming, usually taking me about three weeks of painting from sun up to sundown.”

She has won numerous awards at the Heard Museum and the Lawrence Indian Market, and has been participating in Santa Fe Indian Market for almost 20 years. She has won the Helen Naha Award for Best of Hopi Pots, their fellowship, and several blue and red ribbons.

Feb 10, 2021 10:00 AM in Mountain Time (US and Canada)

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