Documentary 'Grounded in Clay' shows how pottery 'sits at the heart of culture' - Albuquerque Journal

Documentary ‘Grounded in Clay’ shows how pottery ‘sits at the heart of culture’

clay
Laguna/Acoma dough bowl, c. 1830–50, clay and paint. (Peter Gabriel/School for Advanced Research)

On any given day, Elysia Poon travels to her own version of wonderland.

Inside of the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, where Poon is the director of the Indian Arts Research Center, rooms are filled with clay pots from all different pueblos.

Each one of them has a story and Poon wants people to give a listen.

This is the mission of the documentary, “Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery.” The film premieres at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, on New Mexico PBS, channel. 5.1. It will also be available to stream on the PBS Video app. There will also be an encore screening at 6 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 20.

Santa Clara water jar, c. 1880–1900. (Peter Gabriel/School for Advanced Research)

“It was truly a privilege and blessing to work with the incredible community members on the project,” Poon says. “We built a level of trust through the project and we all worked through the pandemic.”

“Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery” is a 30-minute documentary that explores the complex and rich histories that surround and are held within pueblo pottery.

Drawing upon outstanding collections of historic pueblo pottery, in the documentary, Pueblo people share personal insights that reveal how pottery is a powerful element that sits at the heart of their cultures.

This program highlights the deep connections between pueblo people and clay in a way that has rarely been seen.

The film is part of a nationally traveling collaborative exhibition of the same name, developed by the School for Advanced Research and New York-based Vilcek Foundation.

The show is a rare exhibition curated by the Native American communities it represents and is on display at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in Santa Fe through May 29, 2023.

Elysia Poon, director, Indian Arts Research Center, School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe. (Courtesy of Garret Vreeland/School for Advanced Research)

The exhibit is a first of its kind as it gives voice to more than 60 individual members of 21 tribal communities. These members chose and wrote about artistically or culturally unique pots spanning 1,000 years.

The exhibition will move to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Vilcek Foundation in 2023, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts in 2024 and to the St. Louis Art Museum in 2025.

Poon says by watching the film, viewers will understand the connection pueblo people have to clay and pottery.

“It’s an art form that is reflective of themselves,” she says. “Pueblo pottery comes alive and retains the history. Through this project, there’s an understanding that behind each piece is a story of the people. It’s from the earth and has a deep history.”

Poon says a film crew worked on the project for nearly a year.

“We took the time to build trust with the people that we spoke with,” Poon says. “It was important for us to capture their story because it is revealing how pottery is a powerful element that sits at the heart of culture.”

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Documentary ‘Grounded in Clay’ shows how pottery ‘sits at the heart of culture’


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Hospitals continue to get battered by viruses
ABQnews Seeker
At the University of New Mexico ... At the University of New Mexico Children's Hospital ICU on Thursday, there were 22 patients in a unit licensed for 20 beds, and 90% ...
2
Turn your guns into gift cards at ABQ buy-back ...
ABQnews Seeker
Residents can turn in guns for ... Residents can turn in guns for gift cards of up to $250 at a gun buy-back event Saturday, Dec. 10, in Albuquerque. The Guns ...
3
DA's office investigating NMSU staff and players
ABQnews Seeker
NMSU officials plan to hire a ... NMSU officials plan to hire a third-party investigator to review the fatal Nov. 19 shooting
4
A family fight the day after Thanksgiving and a ...
ABQnews Seeker
Officials say the man shot by ... Officials say the man shot by officers was armed with knives
5
Albuquerque's Kickstand Cafe is under new ownership
ABQnews Seeker
The North Valley business will hold ... The North Valley business will hold its grand reopening this weekend.
6
Griner freed: WNBA star swapped for Russian, heads home
ABQnews Seeker
WASHINGTON (AP) -- American basketball star ... WASHINGTON (AP) -- American basketball star Brittney Griner headed home Thursday night, freed from Russian prison in exchange for the U.S. releasing notorious Russian ...
7
Former Catron County sheriff faces 10 felony charges for ...
ABQnews Seeker
A former New Mexico sheriff was ... A former New Mexico sheriff was charged Thursday with embezzlement and money laundering for allegedly taking $39,000 in federal funds intended to reimburse Catron ...
8
Katy Duhigg, first-term senator from Albuquerque, tapped to lead ...
ABQnews Seeker
Democrat Katy Duhigg is in line ... Democrat Katy Duhigg is in line to serve as the next chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee at the Roundhouse, where she would fill ...
9
Microwave technology is getting closer to the battlefield. This ...
ABQnews Seeker
Air Force lab accelerates development of ... Air Force lab accelerates development of ‘directed energy’ systems