Page 65 - River Trading Post Artists

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Artist's Profile
Tribal Affilation:
Permanent Collections:
Methods and Style of Work:
Signature or Hallmark:
About The Artist:
Mark Tahbo grew up and lives today at First Mesa in Hopi, a Puebloan community located in northeastern Arizona. He is a member
of the Tobacco Clan, with ancient roots in the American Southwest. Tahbo's style of pottery is classified as Sikyatki Revival Ware,
named after the Yellow House village, which is known for its fine clay pottery that fires with swirling yellow, orange and red colors of
a desert sunset. Sikyatki-style potters' fantastic designs feature animals, birds, butterflies and clouds abstracted in counterbalanced
patterns painted with the juice of wild spinach, mustard or beeweed plants. Using a traditional yucca brush for his painting and local
native clay for the vessel, Tahbo creates hand-coiled pottery jars and bowls that are then fired outdoors in a pit, in the tradition of
his ancestors.
"I live just a skip and a hop northeast of Sikyatki, the old village," he notes. "I go up there a lot in the fall and winter when the rattlers
go into hibernation. This is where my thoughts of pottery come to me. There is a path that leads to the top of the mesa, where the
petroglyphs can be seen. I touch them softly. In my early years, I looked at these designs for inspiration."
Much of the knowledge of traditional pottery making came from his great-grandmother, the late Grace Chapella (ca.1874-1980).
"She used to hold my hands and rub them," Tahbo recalls, "as if she was rubbing into my hands the gift of creativity. Then she said
confidently, 'I know you have it.' I loved to touch her skin, so silky, thin and transparent."
After Grandmother Grace passed on into the next world, recalls Tahbo, "I started venturing down different paths. My designs were
inspired by the seasons. During harvest time, I painted corn, melons and squash. I observed flocks of birds and swarms of bats in
migration. I also explored a spatter technique. One of my friends said my spatter designs looked like the paintings of an abstract
painter named Jackson Pollock. Because the lower village is called Polacca, my friend started to call me 'Jackson Polacca.' I think
the old Sikyatki potters were really modern artists."
Mark Tahbo
Other Information:
Friday, February 17, 2012
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