AWARD-WINNING WORKS OF ART
Allen Houser Lifetime Achievement Award
Best of Show Awards
1st Place Awards
2nd Place Awards
Curator's Choice Award
Jemez Black-on-white and Ceramic Revival in the American Southwest
Jemez Black-on-white is the traditional pottery of the Hemish, or Jemez People. The pottery is tempered with volcanic tuff, slipped with a white clay, painted with a carbon (vegetable) paint, and fired in a reduction (oxygen free) atmosphere. It is found throughout the Jemez Mountains and surrounding areas, including the Rio Puerco, Dinetah, and Northern Rio Grande River Valley. Archaeologists typically date this pottery type between AD 1300 and 1700. However, that isn’t really the case. In the modern world, a more accurate date range for Jemez Black-on-white would be as early as the Pueblo I Period (AD 700 – 950) and AD 2000 - present.
Jemez Black-on-white is part of a ceramic revival movement that has been going on in the American Southwest since the early 20th century. It began with Nampeyo, a Hopi-Tewa potter who visited the excavations at Sikyatki in 1895 and began to copy the designs she saw. Later famed potter, Maria Martinez of San Ildefonso re-popularized the polished blackware, known to archaeologists as Kapo Black.
The newest member to these rediscovered Native American Pottery Traditions is Jemez Black-on-white. Over a decade ago, this ancestral pottery of the Hemish people was rediscovered by Joshua Madalena. This new Jemez Black-on-white has been a huge success drawing praise from both collectors and archaeologists world-wide.
Rediscovering the process by which Jemez Black-on-white was made proved quite difficult. The pottery tradition had been lost for over three centuries. While working in archaeology in the early 1990s, Joshua Madalena became intimately familiar with the pottery. Through a laborious process of trial and error, he was able to successfully replicate his ancestors’ work.
Now the clays and slip have been relocated and the secrets of painting and firing techniques have been rediscovered. These techniques have been most difficult to recover, since there are no modern traditions that maintained the secrets of high temperature organic pit-firing. The paint, made of plant extracts, soak into the vessel surface before firing. The painted decorations must survive the high temperatures, leaving a design of black carbon trapped within the polished surface of this special white slip. The success of this process depends on controlling the availability of oxygen around the vessel during firing. Every pot is hand coiled and hand painted; every piece is high-temperature pit-fired.
Joshua has been honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Allan Houser Legacy Award and the Povika Award by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) at the Santa Fe Indian Market for his contributions to the Native art world.These awards are the highest honor that SWAIA bestows upon a Native artist. The annual award recognizes the contributions by a distinguished Native American artist to Native arts and Native culture.
Joshua Madalena is being honored also for his perseverance and success in bringing Jemez Black-on-white back from extinction in a new exhibit called “Ceramic Revivals.” His work is featured alongside other notary potters, such as Nampeyo, Maria Martinez, Ida Redbird, and Juan Quezada at the Amerind Foundation just east of Tucson, Arizona. This exhibit celebrates traditional Pueblo Art and its rightful place in the modern world. Jemez Black-on-white’s inclusion in this exhibit is be celebrated as it acknowledges the hard work of Joshua Madalena.
“Joshua Madalena has finally succeeded in replicating the Black-on-White techniques. His painstaking experimentation with clays, paints, and firing techniques has captured the essence of the ancestral pottery. His designs and forms are drawn from the ancient vessels, and his raw materials are true to the landscape of the Jemez Mountains. We are witness to a true revival, both of a technical process and of an essential historical element of Jemez culture.” Dr. Eric Blinman, Director, Museum of New Mexico
Matt Barbour, Manager, Jemez Historic Site
Dr. Eric Blinman, Director, Museum of New Mexico
Joshua Madalena, Artist/Historian, Pueblo of Jemez
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