Acoma Pottery at Modern West Fine Art

Acoma pottery is an 1,000 year old tradition passed down from generation to generation in the Acoma Pueblo.

The Acoma Pueblo is the oldest continually inhabited area in the US – about 70 miles outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is known for producing thin walled, strong pottery with black and orange geometric designs on a creamy, rough surface.

The clay is mined nearby, then filtered and dried to the correct texture. Then shards of older pots are ground and added as temper to strengthen the clay. Shaping the pot is done by gradually hand-coiling and then hand-scraping the pot with a gourd till reaching the artist’s desired shape and thinness. Finally a stone is used to sand the pot smooth.

The slip is then applied to the pot, giving it that special Acoma creamy white color. Now, the pot is a perfect blank canvas for symbolic, geometric designs. A yucca brush is used to paint elaborate designs representing rain, clouds, rain drops, lightning, mountains, and sometimes animals. These designs communicate the interrelationship cycle of life, water, earth, and sky.

Each pot is individual and unique. It has a life of its own. It has a piece of history. And a heritage that spans across the centuries.  

Acoma pottery is on display and available at Modern West Fine Art.

Written by Jill Lingwall. Photographed by Tylor Pilcher.