Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Road to Indian Market 2010: The Nampeyo Legacy with the Sahmie Sisters of Hopi

Even when an artist has years of experience, the road to SWAIA Indian Market can be long. The Sahmie Sisters, direct descendants of the greatest of all Hopi potters Nampeyo, for instance are no exception.  While Nyla Sahmie does not participate in Indian Market, Rachel Sahmie, and Jean Sahme Nampeyo (Jean spells her last name without the ‘i’.) do.  In spite of their lineage,  even these ladies aren’t guaranteed a problem-free process prior to Indian Market. They sometimes lose pots, just like every artist who participates.

What doesn’t fail these three fabulous women is their zest for life and wonderful senses of humor. As a matter of fact, they are all so dynamic in three different ways, that you can scarcely pick your favorite Sahmie Sister.  While they all take things in stride and laugh at life, what they do take seriously is the responsibility of being Nampeyo.  To them, that means carrying on the name with grace and adherence to the traditions of the past, which have carried them through the present and will lead them into the future. The quality and specialness of their work is undeniable.

The week prior to the 2010 SWAIA Indian Market, Nyla, Rachel and Jean all came to Andrews Pueblo Pottery and Art Gallery from Hopi to meet with customers and present a comprehensive show of their work. Nyla, the vivacious middle sister, while skilled and most interested in creating as large of pots as possible, brought along some of her miniatures, and Rachel, the youngest sister, brought a wonderful large canteen with a design reminiscent of the work of Sadie Adams, as well a bowl, an olla and two large cylinders with her own designs that adhere to traditional Nampeyo form and methods. Rachel always likes to ask the collector “what do you see?” and that is what I love best about her. The quietest and the oldest of the three is Jean Sahme. Jean, who is a teacher, is known for her large, gorgeous cylinders, and she didn’t disappoint fans at Andrews by bringing some of her best work to show and sell.

All three women are daughters of Priscilla Namingha Nampeyo and they use only traditional methods of forming, painting and firing their pottery. As part of my “The Road to Indian Market 2010” series, I decided to interview these three sisters, who keep everyone on their toes. Learn about their heritage as members of the Nampeyo Family and their distinct styles in my video interview with them HERE:

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