Museum of the West Pottery Exhibit to Showcase Donated Hopi Masterworks

Fannie Polacca Nampeyo (Hopi 1900-1987), Migration Pattern Jar, 1967. Gift of the Allan and Judith Cooke Collection. Photo by Gary Rohman.

More than 65 of the finest examples of Hopi pottery will go on exhibit for the first time on September 16, when the “Canvas of Clay: Hopi Pottery Masterworks from The Allan and Judith Cooke Collection” exhibition opens at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.

Spanning six centuries, the exhibition explores the history and stylistic traditions of the Hopi, who have excelled in the creation of ceramics for generations. Among the historic and contemporary masterworks are 18 ceramics by Nampeyo of Hano (Hopi/Tewa, c. 1860-1942), the most famous of the Hopi potters. Twenty-two other master potters are also represented in the exhibition, including Nampeyo’s daughters and other descendants.

The exhibition includes approximately half of The Allan and Judith Cooke Collection, one of the finest private collections of Hopi pottery, which has been gifted to the museum. Ceramics from the collection will be permanently featured in a new museum gallery, The Allan and Judith Cooke Gallery. Sponsored by the City of Scottsdale, the gallery honors the donor and his late wife, and the Hopi people whose tribal land lies in northern Arizona.

Exhibitions of ceramics from the Cooke collection will be in ongoing rotation in the new, permanent gallery. The inaugural “Canvas of Clay” exhibition is scheduled September 16, 2017 through December 2019.

“The City of Scottsdale is privileged to provide its residents and the millions of annual visitors to our community with the opportunity to see this national treasure first-hand,” said Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane. “It serves as a point of pride not only for the city, but for the state of Arizona.”

“We are honored to be entrusted with this exquisite collection,” said Mike Fox, museum director and CEO. “This exhibition is an ongoing tribute to the people of Hopi, and as such serves as an important resource for research, education and inspiration for the tribe, our local community, students, artisans and visitors worldwide. We are deeply appreciative of Dr. Cooke’s generosity and this opportunity to celebrate these gifted artists.”

“It’s amazing to see how far back Hopi pottery goes, and the awesome condition the ceramics are in,” said Rose Hawee, Hopi cultural advisor to the museum. “This permanent exhibit provides the tribe, and all people, with the opportunity to enjoy the Hopi’s legacy, and realize how important it is. Hopefully, it will also encourage the younger generation to continue making pottery.”

According to Tricia Loscher, chief curator of Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, Native American artists played a vital role in transforming Scottsdale from a small farming and ranching community into a nationally acclaimed creative and artistic regional hub. Among the best known are fashion and textile designer Lloyd Kiva New (Cherokee) and jeweler and potter Charles Loloma (Hopi), who have inspired generations of Native American artists with their innovative designs.

“This collection tells seven centuries of stories about Hopi life and culture, and speaks to how the cultural legacy of the Hopi pottery tradition is carried on today by the descendants who create their own masterful ceramics,” said Loscher. “Having these pots return to Arizona, and placed on permanent exhibit in Scottsdale, is especially relevant given the integral role Native American artists and their artworks played in elevating the city’s cultural standing.”

 The more than 120 pieces in The Allan and Judith Cooke Collection include early black on white ware; 14th- through 16th-century Sikyatki polychrome (multi-color) masterworks characterized by exuberantly painted and sculpted ceramics; and more fluid, artistic interpretations by Hopi potters of the 20th and 21st centuries.

As a professor of medicine at the University of Kansas, Kansas City, Kansas, Cooke became aware of Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. “After touring the museum, hearing what the museum’s director had to say about the aims for the future of the enterprise and the sincerity of the vision, I must say I was most impressed,” Cooke said. “I believe the leadership will make this a great museum. For these reasons and others, I am gifting my collection of Hopi pottery to the Museum of the West.”





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Mike Saucier is the Editor of Frontdoors Media. He can be reached at
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