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As Reviewed in Maine Antique Digest

March 2015

For 25 years, Steve Elmore of Santa Fe, New Mexico, an artist and dealer in Native American art, has researched the life and work of Hopi-Tewa potter Nampeyo (c. 1856-1942). Elmore has closely examined the Keam collection of Hopi pottery at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, has studied photographs of Nampeyo and her work, has talked with living potters, including some of Nampeyo’s descendants, and has reviewed historical literature about Nampeyo. In this book Elmore focuses on Nampeyo’s early years, including her childhood, her training, her development as an artist, and her role in the Sikyatki revival.

Elmore believes that Nampeyo’s art transcends her Hopi culture and that she should be classified as an early Modernist artist. He recognizes that the “modern art establishment does not know how to properly include Nampeyo.” She was trained as a traditional potter, but “she evolved into a unique artist using modern marketing techniques to sell her work to a new Euro-American audience.” According to Elmore, Nampeyo’s “unique position as an early successful American woman modern artist merits her a special place in art museums, yet she is not well represented in major art museums and does not have a museum of her own.” Elmore’s insights into the early life and work of Nampeyo help explain why one collector and author refers to her as “the Picasso of the Southwest.”

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