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Emma Lewis Polychrome Bowl


Item Number: DR 2162
Pueblo: Acoma Pueblo
Artist: Emma Lewis  (Mitchell)
Medium: Clay and vegetal paint
Age: Circa 1980’s
Dimensions: 5” X 7”


SKU: DR 2162 Categories: , , ,


Emma is one of Lucy Lewis’ daughters. Lucy is regarded as one of the matriarchs of Acoma pottery and her beautiful pottery is highly sought after by museums and collectors alike. Her daughters followed in her footsteps learning to make traditional Acoma pottery.

Although Emma depicted a variety of animals on her pottery, one of her favorite designs was the deer with a heart line. This lovely bowl has a simple leaf design around the rim.   There are eight heart line deer painted on the bowl, standing in in two rows. They are charming as they stand seemingly at attention looking straight ahead, as if vigilantly watching for trouble. The bowl is painted with bee-weed (black) and a red clay slip for the arrow of the heart line.

The deer is an important being that sustained life through essential things like food, clothing, and tools. Creating the deer’s image was a way to honor it for giving its life through hunting. It was an offering to the Creator for providing the deer, and it served as a reminder of the gift of life.  The deer was, and still is, a symbol of life, reciprocity, stewardship, and strength.

Emma made all of her pottery in the traditional manner: using hand dug clay that is prepared by cleaning and grinding to a smooth almost flour like substance; grinding ancient potsherds for temper; coiling the clay into a vessel shape; making paints from plant and mineral elements; and after adequate drying time, firing the finished vessels in an open outdoor handmade kiln. She, her sisters and her mother, Lucy, often worked together sharing stories while they created their beautiful pottery.

Condition: Excellent – original condition – there are a couple of places on the rim where the paint has rubbed from handling
Provenance: Acquired from a private collector in New Mexico
Recommended Reading: Lucy M. Lewis: American Indian Potter by Susan Peterson