The W. Dale and Jeanne C. Compton Collection of Native American Art overview photo

The W. Dale and Jeanne C. Compton Collection of Native American Art

  • Duration:Temporary
  • Location:Whitten Featured Object Case

(date) 1/10/2012–5/6/2012

Sparked by a visit to the American Southwest as newlyweds, Dale and Jeanne Compton have spent decades collecting Native American arts and crafts. This collection of ceramics, basketry and rugs typifies the evolution of Native American crafts from functional objects to highly collectible works of art. While the collection focuses primarily on works from the American Southwest, there are examples of Native American craft from other regions of the United States, such as the Micmac quillwork on display here.

There is a strong tradition of pottery making throughout the pueblos of the American Southwest. Even today, many artists utilize traditional methods of gathering clay, firing, and applications of slips and natural pigments. Artists incorporate designs from many sources. Some use designs passed down through generations. Some look to the designs found on ancient pottery that has been uncovered through archeological excavation. Still others bring contemporary symbols and signs into their works.

Pottery making is often a family affair, with each generation learning the craft from their predecessors. Siblings Margaret and Luther Gutierrez of Santa Clara Pueblo worked together to create pieces such as 2011.11.0002, learning the craft from their famous parents Lela and Van Gutierrez. The works on display of sisters Lois GutierrezĀ­de la Cruz (2011.11.0001) and Minnie Vigil (2010.10.0006) from Santa Clara Pueblo share similarities of design and motif, yet each piece is executed in a style unique to that sister.