New Acquisition: Clay vessels by Native American potter Jeri Redcorn added to Smithsonian collections

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History recently acquired three contemporary pieces of Caddo pottery from well-known modern Native American artist, Jeri Redcorn.

Jeri Redcorn, Department of Anthropology, Smithsonain National Museum of Natural History, Indian pottery, Native American pottery

Image left: Caddo potter Jeri Redcorn

“One of the greatest strengths of the anthropology collections at NMNH is their historical depth,” says Daniel Rogers, anthropology department chairman at the Natural History Museum. “Ms. Redcorn’s contemporary pottery is providing NMNH anthropologists with a modern connection to early Caddo traditions.”

The Caddo people of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma have maintained many of their traditional ways and actively work to preserve their unique tribal cultural today. One example is the pottery of Jeri Redcorn.

“Ms. Redcorn’s pottery represents the modern reflection of a tradition that goes back more than 1,200 years,” says Rogers.

Redcorn, a native of Oklahoma, began her study of the legendary Caddo pottery after many years of admiring the work of her native people. In 1991, she vowed to learn how to carry on the tradition and officially began her study of the Caddo pottery.

Early Caddo pottery was made of coiled clay commonly mixed with a temper (a material that strengthens the clay) made of bone or pottery shards. The shape of the vessels varied considerably in form and decoration, but as seen in Redcorn’s work, pottery was commonly decorated with incised (drawn into wet clay) lines forming complex circular and rectangular designs that covered a large portion of the vessel.NHB2010-03448.tif

Image right: These three vessels by Jeri Redcorn were recently added to the collections of the Anthropology Department of the National Museum of Natural History. (Photo by James DiLoreto)

In 2007 Ms. Redcorn was commissioned to make three pots for the National Museum of Natural History.  The end result was three beautiful examples that represent a combination of traditional designs with a modern interpretation.  The three pots were brought to the Smithsonian in 2009. Ms. Redcorn has also participated in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian programs and in 2009 First Lady Michelle Obama chose one of Ms. Redcorn’s pots for display in the White House.

“Ms. Redcorn is a modern-day cultural interpreter of a very long tradition,” says Rogers, “We’re happy to have Ms. Redcorn’s pottery join the Smithsonian collection.”--Jessica Porter

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  • Mary Buchanan

    I believe if were Ms Redcorn I would have been angered by the fact that one of my pots selected by an organization as reputable as the Smithsonian could be “plucked” from it’s public display of representation of my peoples artistic accomplishments to be scuttled away for the personal enjoyment of a “select few”.

    • Meghan Mulkerin

      That was not a pot from this accession. The vessel selected by the White House was from the collection of the National Museum of the American Indian. These vessels are in the collection of the National Museum of Natural History. Furthermore, if you see Ms. Redcorn’s own website, she was happy that her piece had been selected by the Obamas. http://www.redcornpottery.com/about.html