Erin Monique Grant

Colorado River Indian Tribes

Curator Erin Monique Grant (Colorado River Indian Tribes) is a museum professional and in 2019–20 was the Anne Ray Intern at the Indian Arts Research Center, School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe.


Tribal Affiliations:

Artwork Affiliations:

Erin chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:

Acoma jar with bird designs

Acoma jar with bird designs
Early 1900s
Clay and paint
6¾ x 9 in. (17.2 x 22.9 cm)
Collection Vilcek Foundation

Not a Fish

You cannot talk about Pueblo pottery without talking about Pueblo people. Pots and jars like this one represent the strength, cultural resilience, and ingenuity of the people and lands from which the vessels come. This pot does not fit the definition of the Euro-American terms “artifact” and “historical object,” so it does not require descriptors based on Eurocentric ideals. This pot is a blessing and a gift. Its every aspect connects it with its home and its people: the clay is from the land and was gathered by a relative for the purpose of its creation; the form is an evolution of jar shapes made by its ancestors; the designs are those of its village and neighbors; the colors are derived from natural pigments of the land.

When I first met this pot, initially through a photograph and later in person, it was labeled with an incorrect description. The jar had previously passed through hands that believed its decoration was of a fish, an “abstract fish” at that. Yet through talks with Acoma relatives and simple research, I found out that it is a thunderbird—a design its ancestors have been depicting and developing for centuries. Not a fish. I state again: Pueblo voices should always be prioritized when one talks about, interprets, and exhibits Pueblo pottery.