Gallery Artists > Fannie Nampeyo Biography :

Fannie Nampeyo (1900 - 1987)  Artworks >>

Fannie was Nampeyo's youngest daughter and arguably the most talented potter among her offspring but also the least compatible with her mother. Her life spanned the lion's share of the 20th century, and she remained a prolific artist almost to the time of her death. In addition to emulating her mother's ceramic virtuosity, Fannie inherited Nampeyo's role as matriarch of the Corn Clan—a vitally important and time-consuming ceremonial position. Fannie was rebellious, and bucking tradition and mores, married her cousin, Vinton Polacca, son of Tom Polacca, who was the brother of Nampeyo, Fannie's mother. Instead of adhering to Hopi ways, they raised their seven corn clan children as Mormans, a group who through Tom Polacca made fairly successful inroads at the Hopi Reservation. Fannie began making pottery in her early 20s, teaming up with her mother by painting the pots that the near-blind Nampeyo was still able to expertly form. She continued to assist Nampeyo until the latter's death while building her own reputation as a solo artist. According to biographer Mary Ellen Blair, Fannie signed Nampeyo's name to early collaborative pieces and then switched to "Nampeyo Fan-nie." The signature "Fannie Nampeyo" appears on pots she made alone. Although never an entrant at Indian Market, Fannie did participate in the Museum of Northern Arizona's Hopi Craftsman Exhibition, winning a blue ribbon in 1961. As with many artists, Fannie held other jobs and interests throughout her life. She started out as a teen working for Hopi House in the housekeeping department. A tamale business made her famous in the environs of Keams Canyon. She became a devout Mormon and devoted much time to religious affairs as well as to learning Mormon crafts such as quilting. In addition, she inspired and taught all of her children—daughters Elva, Tonita, Iris, and Leah as well as sons Harold, Ellsworth, and Tom—to continue the Nampeyo legacy of pottery making. Source

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