Photography
© Ely Abrums and Laura Walker

Alice Cling (ca. 1946-present)

Navajo artist Alice Cling was born around 1946 in a hogan at Cow Springs, Arizona at a time when the pottery trade was almost obsolete, the old women who knew the craft were very old, and few young women wanted to learn. Women in the Cow Springs area continued to make pottery for ceremonial needs, keeping the craft alive until a limited trade started up in the 1950s. Alice’s mother, Rose Williams, a prominent pottery maker and Living Treasure, was her first teacher. Alice works in clay dug by her family from a place near Black Mesa. After applying an iron-bearing slip to a simple, symmetrically-shaped piece, she polishes it with a river stone before outdoor firing. The pigmentation of the clay and juniper wood ashes from the fire produce magnificently colored surfaces on the pottery. Alice chooses to allow the pigmentation to serve as the decoration because her grandmother disapproved of using traditional designs on non-utilitarian wares. A light coating of piñon tree pitch is applied to the still-warm pots after firing, which produces a beautiful shiny and traditional coating. In 1978 her work was chosen and featured in the vice-presidential mansion in Washington, D.C. Alice has been recognized and given several awards at Flagstaff and Santa Fe Indian fairs and powwows.


Pieces

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