Published on June 7, 2013 by Amy
The telling of stories has always been an integral part of Native American culture. The popular “storyteller” pottery figurines of a sitting adult covered with children represent the passing on of stories and traditions from the elders to the younger generations. The Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico has a long tradition of figurative pottery, and today storytellers have become a very popular collectible. Cochiti potter Stephanie Rhoades, who works under the name “Snow Flake Flower” creates whimsical pieces in a distinctive style all her own.
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Snow Flake Flower uses clay that she collects herself from the hills around Cochiti, and with wild spinach plants makes the black pigment for painted designs. She fires her pottery outdoors, crediting her ancestors for developing the techniques that she uses today. The legacy of her heritage also provides the inspiration for many of her unique storyteller creations. The stories she heard as a child, especially the tales of Coyote’s trickster escapades, find expression in her clay creations. Coyote sits and spins tales for the little ones crawling over him, a drummer sings to his grandchildren, or an owl cradles her fledgelings. By making the animals themselves the storytellers, Snow Flake Flower beautifully expresses their signifigance in the myths of the Cochiti people.
Creating pottery is an ancient tradition among the Pueblo peoples. Snow Flake Flower carries this ancient tradition through today’s world with as much care and love as her storyteller creations carry their own children, the elders and storytellers of the future.