An Art of Our Own: Women Ceramicists from the Permanent Collection

Betty Woodman (American, b. 1930). Still Life Vase #10, 1990. Glazed earthenware. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Laurence Shopmaker in memory of Scott Brown, 1992.109

March 23, 2007–July 26, 2008

To complement the opening of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, there is an installation of ceramics from the permanent collection made by women artists. Over 75 objects are included. Although the vast majority of the objects are by 20th century artists, there are also some earlier examples of "china painting" by largely anonymous women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in both the Aesthetic Movement and Arts and Crafts styles. Examples of pots by Native American artisans are also included.

Native American women in the Southwest pueblos of North America have been making pottery for over two thousand years. Today the potters still dig their own clay (often from sites known only to them), process it, and form the pottery without a wheel, using hand built and coiled methods. The slips are made from ground ochre, natural plant pigments, and ground rocks. Firing is done in open fires although a few potters today may use kilns.

Pottery was essential to native life, with vessels serving as the keepers of traditional ways. Pots serve not only religious but also utilitarian purposes. For contemporary potters, claywork may also provide a living, as well as fame for those who compete outside Native communities, entering the art marketplace through festivals, Indian markets such as those in Santa Fe, and fine art galleries.

Exhibition Highlights

Roxanne Swentzell: Making Babies for Indian Market Lidya Buzio: Roofscape Vase