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"Black-on-White or White-on-Black? Perspectives on Puebloan Pottery Design.

Presentation by Diana Sherman

November 18, 2022 3:00 pm

The presentation will be live on the Center’s FaceBook page and recorded for future viewing on the Museum of Indian Arts and Cultures YouTube channel. Dating from 600 AD to 1500 AD, the vessels originate from famous pottery traditions: the Chacoan, Mimbres, Hopi, and Rio Grande Traditions, amongst others. Diana Sherman, the Collections Manager for the Archaeological Research Collections at the CNMA, and the center’s staff has spent the last two years moving 4,500 vessels from MIAC to the Center. As part of the project, they have consulted with pottery expert Dean Wilson on thousands of vessels, looking at their condition, how they are typed into different traditions, and what motifs or patterns occur in their overall painted designs. Diana shares how there are dual designs on most pottery depending on if you focus on the black painted images or the white, unpainted areas on a vessel. She also summarizes other design elements, including the use of the spiral motif, one of the most ancient symbols used across the globe, as well as the prevalence of other things "cosmic", such as stars, lightening, and water symbols. Also discussed is the use of motifs that imitate basketry or textiles, as well as the prevalence of certain motifs -- stepped triangles and bird motifs to name a few. In the end you will see pictures of hundreds of vessels in the Museum’s collection and have a better understanding of both the diversity and symmetry that occurs across time and space in Southwest pottery design.

Diana has worked for the Museum for 15 years and has a Master’s Degree in Southwest Studies/Archaeology from New Mexico Highlands University.