FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2023
SHELBURNE, Vt. – Shelburne Museum presents its major summer exhibition, Built from the Earth: Pueblo Pottery from the Anthony and Teressa Perry Collection. This extraordinary exhibition highlights significant items from the Perry collection of Native American art, offering a captivating exploration of the masterworks of Pueblo pottery. The exhibition will be on view at Shelburne Museum from June 24 to October 22, 2023.
The exhibition offers a focused look at a selection from a remarkable collection of Native American art that the museum is preparing to steward that represents the most significant acquisition both in size and importance since the museum’s founding.
“The Perry Collection forms the core of a museum initiative to collaborate with Indigenous nations, scholars and culture bearers to present a model of stewardship for Indigenous creative culture and presentation to a broad audience. Built from the Earth presents visitors with a preview of what’s to come,” Thomas Denenberg, John Wilmerding Director and CEO of Shelburne Museum said.
Built from the Earth centers around the skill and artistry of potters from eight Pueblo communities in New Mexico: Haak’u (Acoma), Halona:wa (Zuni), K’awaika (Laguna), Kewa (Santo Domingo), Kotyit (Cochiti), P’o Woe-geh Owingeh (San Ildefonso), Tamaya (Santa Ana), and Ts’iya (Zia).
Delving into the historic methods deeply rooted in the land and materials of New Mexico, the exhibition elucidates the various techniques employed to create these magnificent works of art. The focal point of the exhibition is the symbolic spiral motif present in Pueblo pottery, Victoria Sunnergren, Associate Curator of Native American Art, explained. “The form of the spiral holds multiple meanings in Pueblo culture. Painted delicately on pottery using thin yucca brushes, it evokes feathers, prayers and the communities’ migration history. These spiraled meanings manifest in the very act of creating Pueblo pottery, wherein clay is carefully coiled in layer upon layer and meticulously smoothed into its final form—a vessel built from earth,” Sunnergren said.
The process of crafting Pueblo pottery is explored in the exhibition from gathering clay and hand-building the pots, to creating designs made with pigments derived from plants and minerals and culminating with the firing process.
The exhibition also sheds light on the rich history and diverse cultural traditions of the Pueblo communities. When Spanish conquistadors explored the region in the 16th century, they encountered Indigenous peoples living in permanent housing structures. These Indigenous communities, with their unique languages, religious beliefs, and artistic practices, were collectively labeled “Pueblo” by the Spanish, derived from the Spanish word for town. However, in recent years, the Pueblo communities have reclaimed their own Indigenous names, rejecting the names bestowed upon them by the Spanish, often associated with Catholic saints. To honor the sovereignty of these living peoples, the exhibition employs the Indigenous names for each Pueblo.
Shelburne Museum wishes to thank our cultural advisors for giving their time and insight in support of this exhibition: Joseph Aguilar (P’o Woe-geh Owingeh/San Ildefonso), Monica Silva Lovato (Kewa/Santo Domingo), Curtis Quam (Halona:wa/Zuni), Monyssha Trujillo (Kotyit/Cochiti), and Brian Vallo (Haak’u/Acoma).
About the Anthony and Teressa Perry Collection of Native American Art
The more than 200-item collection of Native American masterworks was assembled over several decades by Anthony “Tony” Perry and Teressa “Teri” Perry. Remarkable for its depth and breadth, the collection is comprised of items predominantly from Plains, Prairie and Southwest peoples. The collection amplifies and diversifies the Native American materials already stewarded by Shelburne Museum. Together, the Perry Collection and the museum’s Indigenous collection represent nearly 80 Tribes.
The Perry Collection is being gifted to Shelburne Museum by Teri Perry in memory of her late husband Tony Perry, a noted businessman in Vermont with a deep connection to the region. The Perry Collection is remarkable for its depth, breadth and quality, including superb examples of beadwork, clothing, weavings and pottery predominantly from Plains and Southwest cultures. The collection emphasizes craft traditions in the decades before and after the turn of the 20th century. The collection is organized with concentration in particular singular forms and with items of the highest aesthetic quality and artistic merit.
About Shelburne Museum’s Native American Initiative
The Native American Initiative at Shelburne Museum is a major undertaking that includes stewardship of an important collection of Native American art and construction of a building and integrated landscape designed by collaboratively designed to create a national resource for the study and care of Indigenous art. The Perry Center for Native American Art will be the 40th building on Shelburne Museum’s 45-acre campus.
Shelburne Museum has approached this project with an abiding awareness of the responsibility inherent in caring for a collection that represents living cultures. Partnerships with source communities have been a priority and focus—the museum has worked to build relationships that will make the Perry Center for Native American Art a resource that reimagines the museum and its role in presenting American art and material culture.
The Native American Initiative is rooted in Shelburne Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb’s (1888–1960) deep interest in, and engagement with, Indigenous art and culture, an aspect of Shelburne Museum’s program incompletely realized in her lifetime and of singular importance to the institution today.
About Shelburne Museum:
Shelburne Museum is the largest art and history museum in northern New England and Vermont’s foremost public resource for programming in the arts and humanities. Incorporated in 1947, the museum comprises 39 buildings and 22 gardens on a 45-acre campus. The museum stewards a collection of over 100,000 objects in unique and unparalleled installations of American art and material culture. Programming includes exhibitions and educational programs designed to creatively engage a broad spectrum of audiences and spark conversation and contemplation about the human condition.
Shelburne Museum’s trailblazing founder Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888–1960) repeatedly called for expanding scholarly and popular understanding of American material life as one of the principal collectors who defined the field in the decades that bracketed World War II. A critical example of this impulse is Webb’s deep interest in, and engagement with, Indigenous art and culture, an aspect of Shelburne Museum’s program incompletely realized in her lifetime and of singular importance to the institution today. www.shelburnemuseum.org
High-resolution images available HERE.
Maker formerly known [Haak’u (Acoma Pueblo)], Polychrome Water Jar, ca.1890. Clay and pigment, 13 1/2 x 14 x 14 in. Collection of Shelburne Museum, Anthony and Teressa Perry Collection of Native American Art. 2023-5.14. Photography by Andy Duback.
Maker formerly known [Haak’u (Acoma Pueblo)], Polychrome Water Jar, ca.1880–90. Clay and pigment, 16 x 17 1/2 x 17 1/2 in. Collection of Shelburne Museum, Anthony and Teressa Perry Collection of Native American Art. 2022-16.4. Photography by Andy Duback.
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