Bobby Silas and Timothy Edaakie Pottery Artists
It seems that art in the Southwest goes in two directions. One direction is all about innovation and the artists using new techniques to create their pieces. Then you have those artists who are drawn to the past, and want to make works the same way their ancestors did. Artists Bobby Silas and Timothy Edaakie want to work like their ancestors did.
Perry Null Trading How did you two meet?
Bobby Silas In 2004 I moved to Zuni from Hopi. My sister married a Zuni man and I came to live with her.
Perry Null Trading So you are Hopi?
Bobby Silas Yes, I am Hopi. Tim is Zuni.
Perry Null Trading So, you get to Zuni and start making pottery with Timothy?
Bobby Silas No, I didn’t meet Tim until about a year after I moved to Zuni. My Godfather Kevin Navassie began teaching me how to make traditional Hopi pottery when I was twelve. Years old. When I moved to Zuni at 17 I was already making pottery.
Perry Null Trading When you are being taught how to make pottery what is the process?
Bobby Silas You are first taught to make red ware with no designs. Then you go to the beige clay with no designs, and then finally you put the designs unto your beige clay.
Perry Null Trading Timothy how long have you been doing pottery?
Timothy Edaakie I took a pottery class in high school and got into the traditional painting, but I was making jewelry and not really thinking about pottery.
Perry Null Trading What kind of jewelry were you making?
Timothy Edaakie I make a contemporary style of jewelry. My grandparents Dennis & Nancy Edaakie were my teachers.
Perry Null Trading Did you ever do the animal inlay like your grandparent’s work?
Timothy Edaakie When I was first learning they would have me do the inlay for the borders, but when I started making my own it was different.
Perry Null Trading Do you still make jewelry?
Timothy Edaakie Yes.
Perry Null Trading So how do you two get together and start making pottery?
Bobby Silas I wanted to find someone in Zuni who was making the traditional style Olla Jar, but I couldn’t find anyone. No one was making them. What had become popular where these green ware pots that were traditionally painted. So I told Tim that we should make the traditional style pot. I would do the jar and then he would design it.
Perry Null Trading What is the process?
Bobby Silas I had already been working with the Zuni clay and was comfortable that I could make the jar . So we started to research these old pieces of pottery.
Perry Null Trading How did you do the research?
Bobby Silas We would go to the museum in Flagstaff and the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. They would give us access to old pieces of Zuni pottery. We would also use the internet.
Perry Null Trading Was it amazing to see those old pieces of pottery?
Timothy Edaakie Yes. We have seen designs that no one has seen, and designs that are so different from what is being done today. It is a real challenge to take those designs and replicate them onto a new piece of pottery.
Perry Null Trading You two have been working together now for over 10 years and have become known for this specialized work. When did you get your first big break?
Bobby Silas Six years ago we entered the Zuni Show in Flagstaff and won Best of Show. The winning piece of pottery has stayed in the museum’s permanent collection.
Perry Null Trading Both Zuni and Hopi have a wonderful history with pottery. How do you decide what style of pottery you are going to make?
Bobby Silas We started with reviving Zuni pottery, but have made Hopi style pieces. I think a lot of the influence comes from the research and wanting to teach ourselves these old techniques.
Perry Null Trading Do you do any other shows?
Bobby SilasWe do a Zuni & Hopi Show in Flagstaff each year. Also, we do the Zuni Show in Santa Fe in August.
Perry Null Trading Thank you Bobby Silas and Timothy Edaakie.