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Grace Chapella (aka White Squash Blossom (Tsepela))

Native American


9.25 x 14.5 x 14.5 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

Grace Chapella’s polychrome Jar exhibits the winged figures—or butterfly motif—for which she became well known. It was a decorative scheme she developed from pottery shards found near her home. Chapella drew upon a long tradition of Hopi vessel making, particularly the examples found at the Sikyatki Hopi archaeological site, east of First Mesa, dating from the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries. The designs and shards found during the excavation of Sikyatki in 1895 by the Smithsonian Institution inspired a revival of polychrome Hopi pottery.

Grace Chapella was a member of the Bear Clan of the Hopi-Tewa peoples. She learned traditional techniques from her mother TaTung Pawbe, and her neighbor, the famed Hopi-Tewa potter Nampeyo. Tourists traveling through the Southwest frequently commissioned pieces of her work—particularly salt and pepper shakers—to be used in commercial venues. Tom Polacca, the grandson of Nampeyo and brother to Fannie Nampeyo, encouraged Chapella to sign her work. After initial hesitation, she began doing so, making her one of the earliest Native American potters to consistently sign her work.

Matthew Limb

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