"As a Native American potter and artist, Nathan Youngblood has achieved something almost contradictory: his work is a successful marriage of age-old tradition and inspired innovation. Many collectors feel Nathans name is synonymous with Santa Clara Pueblo pottery, yet his design influences come …
"As a Native American potter and artist, Nathan Youngblood has achieved something almost contradictory: his work is a successful marriage of age-old tradition and inspired innovation. Many collectors feel Nathans name is synonymous with Santa Clara Pueblo pottery, yet his design influences come from as far away as Japan and Russia. Nathan himself readily admits "I try to push the envelope on technique while still staying within the borders of whats considered traditional."
Nathan's pieces distinguish themselves on a number of levels. His pottery is striking in its perfection and balance. The smooth, clean lines of his work naturally draw the eye along the sensuous curves of his pots. Nathan is driven to create flawless art. It is not unusual for him to redraw a design, painstakingly scrape away unwanted spills of slip, or check the dimensions of his vessels with a carpenters level to assure their symmetry. In addition to the technical care he puts into each piece, Nathan approaches each creation from a deeply ingrained traditional standpoint. He learned from his grandparents that he had a certain degree of responsibility to the clay, and for that reason has never strayed from the customs he was taught. Nathan digs his own clay, hand coils each pot, uses the ancient pueblo open-fire technique, and applies thin coats of animal fat to the slip during his polishing process.
In direct contrast to the traditional craftsmanship used in the making of his pottery, Nathan freely borrows from other cultures when researching the decorative stage of his creation. Many of his designs are decidedly Asian in their detail and intricacy, and his adaptation of the Faberge egg into a Native American storage jar is well known.
By juxtaposing traditional Pueblo motifs with contemporary ideas, Nathan creates art that is at once familiar and startling. His attempts at redefining Native American pottery have raised the level by which ceramic art is judged. Respected and highly talented potter Tammy Garcia agrees. "I feel Nathan has set the standards for quality among potters. His precision and creative design work is unparalleled."