New Americas Module: Baskets and Ceramics from the Compton Collection 
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New Americas Module: Baskets and Ceramics from the Compton Collection

  • Post Date: 9/25/2020
  • Author: Elizabeth Sutton and Beth Watkins
  • Reading Time: 2 minute read

Spurlock’s Americas gallery has several new exhibit cases highlighting cultures from across the western hemisphere. These include displays of objects from western Illinois, the US Southwest, Guatemala, Panama, and the Arctic. This post will focus on the Compton Collection, which contains an exceptional variety of American basketry and contemporary Native American Southwest ceramics donated by W. Dale and Jeanne C. Compton.


In addition to the time spent actually weaving the baskets, much care, consideration, and time is required to gather, process, and prepare the raw materials. Weavers must learn when and where the materials can be harvested, how to process each type of material in order to be durable, yet pliable enough for weaving, and how to dye and store the fibers. The total time required to produce one of these baskets ranges from several weeks to over a year.

  • Orange, blue, and beige woven basket
    Third Mesa Hopi, Arizona (2017.07.0126)
  • Dark brown woven basket and lid with beige whalebone handle
    By: Joe Sikvayugak, Inupiaq (2017.07.0108 ) Barrow, Alaska


In Pueblo communities, the artistic knowledge required to produce these fine ceramics is often passed down through families from one generation to the next. Today, ceramicists decorate pottery with both traditional and modern geometric and figural motifs. These examples were selected for display to demonstrate the breadth of animal and insect imagery depicted on the ceramics from this collection.

  • beige ceramic vase with brown leaves painted around small opening at top and brown deer-like animal painted on front
    by Lucy M. Lewis, Acoma Pueblo (2017.07.0001 )
  • Ceramic pot painted with orange, brown and beige designs and an opening at the top
    by Adrian Vallo, Acoma Pueblo (2017.07.0075)