Hopi potter Karen K. Charley “greeting” the Saálakwmana water bottle (PM# 43-39-10/25784) in the Peabody Museum collections. Photo: Lea S. McChesney.

Lea S. McChesney will be giving a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Thursday, October 19, at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled “Hopi Pottery Tales: Historic Museum Collections and Pueblo Pottery Futures.”

Reflecting on thirty years of anthropological engagement with museums and source communities, McChesney will trace disciplinary developments around legacy collections while assessing their impact on the continuity of the Hopi pottery tradition. Three tales illuminate historic shifts and contemporary practice: learning the typological language of cataloguing, research, and publication; seeking the social and cultural context of pottery production and circulation; and learning potters’ alternative language of ontology and aesthetics. In this talk, McChesney will explore collaborative efforts to connect contemporary practitioners with these heritage resources, ensuring Hopi pottery’s regeneration for future generations. Throughout she will address the interrelationship of potters’ concerns with her own.


Lea S. McChesney, PhD, Curator of Ethnology and Director of the Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies at the University of New Mexico, is a cultural and museum anthropologist whose special interests include comparative perspectives on material, visual, and expressive culture; representation and inscription; indigeneity, gender, and identity; and the legacy of museum collections to ongoing cultural heritage in indigenous communities. Her research addresses understanding and interpreting Native arts (especially in the US Southwest) and the historical processes and social contexts that have transformed them over time. Focusing on historic and contemporary Hopi pottery, she critically examines the role of this indigenous art as a classical tradition in the formation of the Western canon of Native American art. The editor of Museum Anthropology, she is also a Research Assistant Professor in UNM’s Department of Anthropology, a Research Associate of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum, and a core member of the Hopi Pottery Oral History Project under the Recovering Voices initiative of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office.