Thomas Polacca

Thomas Polacca (1935-2003) was the grandson of Nampeyo of Hano and he started learning to make pottery from her at a young age. Tom's mother was Fannie Polacca Nampeyo and there were several well-known potters among his siblings, including Leah Nampeyo, Elva Tewaguna, Tonita Nampeyo and Iris Youvella Nampeyo.

As the first Hopi man to make pottery, he continued Nampeyo's tradition of bringing innovation into Hopi pottery. Tom was a pioneer in the deep carving technique that is often seen these days, using it himself to develop pottery depicting Kachina’s, the Anasazi and animals depicted by Kachina’s in mural-like scenes of Hopi religious rituals and ceremonies. His pottery is also recognizable by his placement of symbols and regular use of the themes of storms, clouds and eagle feathers.

Traditional designs in a contemporary pattern on a jar
Jar with organic opening and bird elements in a contemporary design
7 1/4 in H by 12 1/2 in Dia
Carved relief on a polychrome pot
Carved polychrome pot
4 1/2 in H by 8 1/4 in Dia
Kokopelli, bird element and geometric design on a polychrome jar
Polychrome jar decorated with bird element, kokopelli and geometric design
6 1/4 in H by 7 1/4 in Dia
Feather and geometric design on a polychrome carved and painted seed pot
Polychrome seed pot decorated with a carved and painted feather and geometric design
7 in H by 8 in Dia
Giving and Receiving the Paho: Carved and painted on a polychrome seed pot
Polychrome seed pot carved and painted with Giving and Receiving the Paho design
7 1/2 in H by 7 1/2 in Dia
Pottery photos courtesy of Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery