H x 7" D
Tom Polacca (1935-2003) is
the son of Fannie Nampeyo, and grandson of famed Hopi potter,
Nampeyo. Tom's innovative style is reflected in his relief designs.
He, like his grandmother, developed a new approach to Hopi pottery.
He skillfully blended traditional elements with a contemporary
Every detail has been elaborately
etched into the pottery surface. He meticulously made sure that
nothing was overlooked, from the delicately ribbed feathers around
the rim, to the stone pueblo "bricks" around the bottom.
Thomas always did an excellent
job of placing symbols of significance throughout his pieces
in such an abstract manner, that it requires a great deal of
examination and reflection to fully appreciate the hidden nuances.
Cloud and storm designs, as well as eagle feathers find their
way in and throughout nearly all of Tom's themes.
With his art, as with everything
else, he was original. He was an innovator and refused to conform
to others' standards. He had his own vision for everything in
life, and he expressed it perfectly in his pottery.
His vessels can almost be
seen as a metaphor of his life through the years - starting out
simply and evolving into something different, something polished,
something grand, and something strong. He was never afraid to
stand behind his work - he believed in it and cherished the freedom
it gave him.
He never pretended to be anyone
or anything he wasn't. As one of the first to pioneer the etched
style of pottery, Thomas boldly signed using his father's name:
Although the art stems back
to his grandmother, Nampeyo, whose name he used in the beginning
- he was not afraid to be recognized on his own, and in doing
so, he carried on the legacy of his other namesake - that of
his visionary grandfather, Tom Polacca (c. 1865-1911). In this
way, he combined the best of what his heritage had to offer and
paved a way for many who would follow.
Tom has been featured in many
books and magazines which focus primarily on elite Indian arts.
He is mentioned in several prominent works on Hopi pottery, including
Hopi-Tewa Pottery: 500 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf,
The Art of the Hopi by Jerry and Lois Jacka, Fourteen
Families in Pueblo Pottery by Rick Dillingham, and many others.