Polingaysi Qoyawayma, Elizabeth White, Hopi Pueblo Author and Artist
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Polingaysi Qoyawayma (Elizabeth White) was an author and potter. Collectors are familiar with the un-slipped, polished natural clay pottery of Al Qöyawayma and Iris Nampeyo but may not know the inspiration for their creations. A Hopi potter named Polingaysi Qöyawayma, also known as Elizabeth White, was the one who created this style. She was one of the most charming Hopi ladies one could ever meet. She was a potter, a painter, an author, a poet and a philosopher. She made very few pieces of pottery because she started potting late in life.
Polingaysi studied ceramics under the tutelage of Charles Loloma, famous Hopi jeweler, who taught ceramic classes at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and at the Institute for American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Polingaysi was a teacher and began making pottery after she retired from that career in 1954. Once she learned the techniques, she began searching for a style that suited her taste and personality. When she found uniquely special clay that needed no painted design to bring out its beauty, she decided to use only the unadorned clay and occasionally added a bas relief element such as the two ears of corn on this jar.
It was this creation by her that influenced her nephew, Al Qöyawayma, and, later, Iris Nampeyo, to follow her lead. Polingaysi is now gone but her legacy remains in the many career fields in which she was involved. She was an impressive woman, a talented artist, and an influence on her village and its people. One is reminded of her every time one sees pottery by Al Qöyawayma or Iris Nampeyo as they too are her legacy.
Image Source: family of Polingaysi Qoyawayma, Elizabeth White, Hopi Pueblo Author and Artist