The clay vessels in this exhibition reflect continuous formal and technical innovations by contemporary Pueblo artists. At the same time, these wildly creative works are grounded in kinship relations that connect their makers to sacred ecologies and sovereign nations in Arizona and New Mexico. Many artists pay homage to female ancestors, towering talents in the history of clay arts. Others work within extended networks of family, mentors, and partners who share time-sanctioned and novel methods. Experimentation takes place through tactile conversations with clay, a collaborator who influences the work’s final form.

Clay shapes life-sustaining relationships as it is crafted into dazzling works for sale in the booming Native art market centered in Santa Fe. In a modern capitalist marketplace, “innovation” indicates a radical departure from history to originate lucrative new products. Pueblo artists have altered this meaning by negotiating market demands in order to carry forward vital aesthetic and spiritual inheritances. They have redefined innovation as a pursuit of novelty that strengthens, rather than breaks, bonds with ancestors.