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Lucy McKelvey
NAVAJO POTTER

Lucy first learned to make pottery around 1973 as a college student, working with ceramic clay and firing them in an electric kiln. Since then, she has turned to the use of native clay collected near Low Mountain, Arizona, which she mixes with sherd temper. Her elaborate geometric and lifeform designs are executed in natural pigments made from hematite, beeplant and various clays.

One of her most popular designs is that of Yei figures, for which she prefers a large vessel such as a low squat jar with a very wide and flat shoulder. Once polished and painted, the vessels are fired outside for up to six hours. Oak is the fuel used.

Lucy is a full-time elementary school teacher in Bluff, Utah, where she and her family live. Despite her job, she still finds time to make pottery throughout the year to fill orders from dealers and private collectors. She has exhibited her work at the Santa Fe Indian Market since 1975 and has taught her three daughters, Cecelia, Celeste, and Celinda as well as many of her students.

It is Lucy's belief that pottery must, to some extent, go beyond traditions. When Navajo's tell her that it is wrong to paint Yei figures on her pots, she explains that her pottery is a very personal thing, and the decision about which designs to use must be hers also.