Grace Medicine Flower Carved Redware Bowl with Sgraffito Designs


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Grace Medicine Flower, Santa Clara Pueblo Potter

This incredible carved redware bowl was created by Grace Medicine Flower of Santa Clara Pueblo. We have handled many of her works over the years, and each example has been impressive. This piece stands out as being the most elaborate of those which we have handled.

The vessel form is a bowl that curves inward slightly at its rim. A variety of designs were carved from the rim down into the bowl. Some are simple curved lines, which reach about an inch downward. Others are more significant, turning into large spirals or continuing down and eventually reaching designs that are carved into the exterior. Within the carved spirals, Medicine Flower created beautiful depictions of birds and insects feeding on flowers. She did so by using the sgraffito style for which she and her family members are widely celebrated. The style and precision with which she executed these complex designs deserves mention, as does her successful placement of these images within a larger composition.

The polished redware exterior has a rich, beautiful tone. Micaceous clay sparkles softly within the interior and the carved sections adorning the exterior, adding an additional element of visual appeal to the bowl. As far as design elements go, there is a lot happening here, but it does not feel cluttered or busy. Rather, it all comes together beautifully, and the result is one of the finest Grace Medicine Flower pieces we have ever seen.

Artist signature and hallmark flower of Grace Medicine Flower, Santa Clara Pueblo PotterThe bottom of the bowl is signed Grace Medicine Flower, numbered 8981, and marked with a flower hallmark.

Grace Medicine Flower (1938 - ) is a member of the renowned Tafoya family of Santa Clara Pueblo. This whole family of potters has excelled as artists. Grace has mastered the techniques of sgraffito carving and taken it to a new level. She has a delicate touch and achieves a perfect balance. Her grandmother was Sara Fina Tafoya. Her parents were Camilio Sunflower Tafoya and Agapita Yellow Flower Tafoya. Her brother is the equally famous Joseph Lonewolf. Camilio, Joseph, and Grace worked together in the early years of their profession. It was not until the late 1960s that they began the sgraffito-style of design. It wasn't until after the early 1960s that Medicine Flower expanded her style to include sgraffito design. Medicine Flower has received many awards and accolades for her work.

Sgraffito Carving Explained: A method of pottery design known as sgraffito carving is relatively new in pueblo pottery traditions. Rather than deep carving, as is more traditional at Santa Clara Pueblo, sgraffito is achieved by scraping the vessel with a sharp instrument to achieve a shallow depth. The pottery is formed in the traditional coil method, slipped with a watery clay and stone polished before the sgraffito carving commences.

Condition: excellent condition, a few very small slip abrasions

Provenance: this Grace Medicine Flower Carved Redware Bowl with Sgrafitto Designs is from a private collection

Recommended Reading: The Pottery Jewels of Joseph Lonewolf by Jon Young

TAGS: Santa Clara PuebloSara Fina TafoyaCamilio Sunflower Tafoya Agapita Yellow Flower TafoyaJoseph Lonewolf

Alternate close-up views of several of the pottery panel designs.


Grace Medicine Flower, Santa Clara Pueblo Potter
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