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

Roxanne Swentzell: Making Babies for Indian Market

Roxanne Swentzell (American, b. 1962). Making Babies for Indian Market, 2004. Ceramic, pigment. Brooklyn Museum, Gift in memory of Helen Thomas Kennedy, 2004.80

Roxanne Swentzell's work often plays on the interaction between native and non-native worlds. Here, she uses clay, an ancient artistic medium, to depict a traditional Pueblo woman, whose face looks much like Swentzell's. The woman in the sculpture looks up at the Santa Clara black pot balanced on her head, from which babies emerge. But there is a contemporary, ironic twist in what the woman is doing: is she "birthing" pots to be sold at an Indian market, or is it the baby Indians themselves that the consumer will want to buy? The work suggests the stereotypes still held by many non-native people who believe Indians are a commodity, stereotypes the artist is challenging the viewer to acknowledge.