Firing Squad

Multigenerational American Indian women cast their glaze in Heard Museum pottery exhibition

But expression in clay--as in all media--is more than highly refined craft. The works of the matriarchs--filled as they were with imperfections--hovered between the old world and the new. They were barely one generation removed from clayworks that were consumed and defined by active use and meaning within their culture. And they carried the emotional force of that experience. That's hardly the case now. Today's ceramics are driven by a humming market in strictly visual objects and a persistent nostalgia for old-time ways. It has limited the emotional range of the works. But then, thanks to the railroad, that's as true of clay being made off the reservation as on.

"The Legacy of Generations: Pottery by American Indian Women" continues through Sunday, May 17, at the Heard Museum, 22 East Monte Vista. For more information, see the Visual Art listing in Thrills.

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