marilyn ray pottery

Acoma Pueblo artist Marilyn Ray, courtesy Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery

Art isn’t a science. Art is an art, and that’s one reason why Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery allots a whopping five hours to their livestreamed pottery demonstrations. The 26 potters who took part in Fisher’s “Live from Santa Fe” 2020 August Virtual Market used the time to speak directly with viewers, discuss their processes, and start at least one accidental fire. The final streaming session is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, with potter Marilyn Ray (Acoma Pueblo).

Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery began the series in early August to give Native American potters another opportunity to connect to buyers and fans. In part, Fisher Pottery wanted to use the livestreaming sessions as a replacement for demonstrations that couldn’t be held this year because Indian Market was forced to go entirely online.

“We wanted to come up with a venue that allows them to sell their wares in a way that is safe,” says Derek Fisher, marketing director at Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery.

Ray, who sculpts storytellers inspired by her childhood, hopes to use the demonstrations to explain what she does. “From collecting raw materials, to hand processing, to the challenges of decorating or shaping each unique piece,” Ray says. “My hope is to enlighten and share with many collectors and fans of pottery how many styles of pottery are genuinely created.”

The potters and Fisher staff wear masks to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus, but there are still some dangers in the process. “There have been some funny moments already. One where a potter blew up a horno [an oven] by trying to light it with lighter fluid. Another lit himself on fire trying to fire stuff for the first time,” Derek Fisher says.

“The potter will show up around 9 o’clock, and they’ll bring us anywhere from one to 15 or 20 pieces of pottery. They price the pieces of pottery,” Fisher says. As the potters set up, the gallery staff takes pictures of completed pots that are then sold online. Fisher sets up three cameras for the video feed, which allows for a close-up of the in-progress pot and a medium-shot of the potter(s) at work. Gallery owner Andrea Fisher interviews the artists while they coil, shape, polish, design, and paint. The Zoom feed also gives viewers the chance to ask questions in real time. Those who aren’t tech-savvy are able to email their questions.

“It’s incredible to see the talent on a big screen and high-res,” Derek Fisher says.

The potters give detailed explanations of their work and also show off their tools and raw materials. Clarence Cruz (Ohkay Owingeh), assistant professor of ceramics at the University of New Mexico, begins his demonstration with unformed clay and ends with a ready-to-fire, micaceous ware. He gives details on seemingly everything from clay collection to the best posture for wedging and hand-kneading the clay prior to forming it. He also goes into the recent history of Pueblo pottery and talks about their aesthetics. “Designs aren’t just a pretty thing on a piece of pottery, they mean something. There’s a purpose for designs on pottery,” Cruz says in his YouTube video.

The final demonstration will be held online at andreafisherpottery

.com/2020. Many of the previous sessions have been posted on the website. The Andrea Fisher YouTube channel (search for Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery on YouTube’s homepage) also contains the sessions. All videos will be available to watch after Labor Day. Pots from all the artists will also be available for purchase through the gallery. 

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