Christine McHorse - Navajo
Christine McHorse has won acclaim as an innovative potter who marries the techniques and materials of traditional pottery with contemporary non-traditionalforms and firing methods. She uses micaceous clay taken from the mountains near Taos to hand build her vessels using the coil method. Christine has exhibited her large, graceful micaceous pots at the Santa Fe Indian Market since 1988. In 1994 she won Best of Show for pottery.
A Navajo, married into the Taos Pueblo heritage, she was introduced tothe shiny, mica-speckled clay by her husband's grandmother. Lena Archuleta had a curio shop in Taos, and Christine helped build pots for the shop. Her first formal training began at the Institute of American Indian Arts, which she attended beginning at age 13, when the institute was still a high school. Today, Christine's work reveals an ingenious combination of innovationand tradition, typical of the finest Navajo craftspeople.
The prehistoric roots of the micaceous pottery tradition in northern New Mexico lie buried in the geology of the geographic region that archaeologists call the Tewa Basin. In this area, decaying layers of gneiss, shist and granite resulted in residual clay beds containing shiny silver- and gold-colored mica flakes. The pottery made with these distinctive clays are very durable and make great cooking pots. Because of their high thermal shock value,they are capable of withstanding temperature changes that some pottery cannot. Historically, micaceous vessels were valued or traded amongst the Indians and Spanish colonists. Cooking pots, bowls, canteens, pitchers and otherutilitarian shapes have been made by various Indian tribes of the regionsince at least A.D. 1500.
The beauty of Christine's contemporary pottery comes from its symmetry. Using the coil method, Christine creates beautiful pottery with sculptural shapes and sometimes adds an appliqued design. Christine learned to make pottery from her husband's grandmother, Lena Archuleta of the Taos Pueblo, but Christine has gone far beyond those early teachings to blend micaceous clay from that area with her own highly contemporary styles.