Taos Art School

Albuquerque Journal; Aug 17, 2003

New perspectives; [Indian Market Edition 1]

Fellowship award winners look forward to developing, exploring, expanding their art

Each year the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts recognizes the work of several American Indian artists with its fellowship awards.

Image: Pottery, white Swann, Hopi PotteryThis year eight were chosen from among 104 applicants. Artists, working in traditional and nontraditional art forms and from various areas around the country, are represented.

"Many of the previous winners have used the funds and notoriety associated with the award to become some of today's most well-known Native American artists," says SWAIA artistic coordinator Arif Khan.

SWAIA established the cash awards in 1980 to encourage American Indian artists to experiment with new ideas, techniques and materials.

The artists receive $3,000 stipends and booths at Indian Market.

Meet the winners of the 2003 SWAIA fellowship awards below and on pages 18 and 20.

White Swann/pottery

Hopi *** Keams Canyon, Ariz.

White Swann was 6 years old when her mother and grandmother began teaching her their methods for making pottery.

She relies on them still.

Many of her ideas come to her in her dreams, she says, courtesy of her mother and grandparents, who are no longer living.

"When I pray, I just let them know I need assistance and when I go to sleep I see an image of a pot with a design on it," she says.

While the image is still fresh in her mind, even if it is two or three o'clock in the morning, she rouses herself from sleep and grabs the first scrap of paper she sees to sketch it out.

Her ideas also come from ancient kiva murals, shards at Awatovi and other ruins or her grandfather's heirlooms.

Image: White Swann Pottery, Hopi potteryThe designs White Swann, 38, uses most often in her work are water symbols, such as the rainbird, and anything associated with moisture or rain, like dragonflies, turtles, tadpoles and frogs.

"I belong to the Water Clan in my Hopi tribe and rain is life, water is life. Without it we wouldn't be able to survive."

White Swann, who has always lived on the Hopi Reservation, gathers clay near her home in Keams Canyon, Ariz. She coils and then shapes it with gourd tools and once it has dried, polishes it with sandstone. Natural pigments, applied with homemade yucca brushes, are used to create her designs.

White Swann is passing on the traditional techniques to her son and three daughters as her mother and grandmother once taught her. They are already earning their own awards.

"I have some competition here," she laughs. "So I've got to keep one step ahead of them."

She will use her fellowship award to build a studio for demonstrations and lectures.

White Swann will be at booth No. H80PLZ.

Back to White Swann Main Page

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