Harrison Begay Jr. sold his first pot under the Portal at the Place of Governors in Santa Fe in the early 1980’s. Since then, Harrison has become known for his deep carved Santa Clara style pottery, learned from his former wife’s family, the Naranjo’s. He is also noted for his fine polish and unusual use of a matte finish. His pottery ranges in color from jet black to Santa Clara Red. Spirals, hands, and all variety of animals and birds, are designs he uses in homage to Pueblo, Navajo, and Anasazi.
Harrison grew up in a Navajo community near Keams Canyon, Arizona. As a child he made drawings with colored pencils. He went to boarding school in the Steamboat area of the Navajo Reservation. He attended 1 year of community college at Utah Valley Community College. While in college, he trained as a painter in the fine arts curriculum.
Harrison enjoys the whole aesthetic of processing clay. Sometimes, however, he has to resort to the purchase of clay from those who will sell Espanola Clay from along the Rio Grande. Harrison uses mostly a coil technique to control wall thickness where he carves. When building a pot he tries to do well enough so as not to have to sand in order to shape the pot. Sanding he says, opens up holes and pockets in the clay.
Harrison has a room set aside for his potting. Even though he does not do a lot of sanding, he makes a lot of dust. He polishes while the pot is still damp to prevent the slip from drying out. Using an x-acto knife, he carves Navajo Sand painting, rug, and Yei dancers into the surface of the pot. He carves with control by pulling the blade only toward his body and by constantly turning the pot.
Harrison Begay Jr. combines the essentials of shape, polish, design and execution to form inimitable deep carved pots. Tribal Expressions is proud to feature the pottery of this exemplary artist.