Arizona Indian Living Treasures Awards

To Honor the Cultures of Arizona Native American Tribes

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Alice Cling


Navajo artist Alice Cling was born around 1946 in a hogan at Cow Springs, Arizona at a time when the pottery trade was almost obsolete, the old women who knew the craft were very old, and few young women wanted to learn. Women in the Cow Springs area continued to make pottery for ceremonial needs, keeping the craft alive until a limited trade started up in the 1950s. Alice’s aunt, Grace Barlow, and her mother, Rose Williams, a prominent pottery maker and Living Treasure, were her first teachers. Alice works in clay dug by her family from a place near Black Mesa. After applying an iron-bearing slip to a simple, symmetrically-shaped, beautifully-formed piece, she polishes it with a river stone before outdoor firing. The pigmentation of the clay and juniper wood ashes from the fire produce magnificently colored, red-orange-purple-brown-black surfaces on the pottery. Alice chooses to allow the pigmentation to serve as the decoration because her grandmother disapproved of using traditional designs on non-utilitarian wares. Applied to the still-warm pots after firing, a light coating of pinon tree pitch is the only adornment needed for her unique and innovative pieces. In 1978 her work was chosen by Joan Mondale and featured in the vice-presidential mansion in Washington, D.C. Alice has taken numerous awards at Flagstaff and Santa Fe Indian fairs and powwows.


Previous AILTA Recipients

Victor Paul Beck, Sr.
Craft: Silversmith
Tribe: Navajo
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