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Indepth Arts News:

"Native American Potter Lawrence Namoki"
2003-03-28 until 2003-04-22
Binney and Smith Gallery, Banana Factory
Bethlehem, PA, USA United States of America

The works of Native American potter Lawrence Namoki are the focus of the new exhibition in the Binney & Smith Gallery of the Banana Factory, 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem, Pa., March 28-April 22. Namoki, the Banana Factory’s visiting artist in residence from March 17-April 24, is an internationally recognized Hopi potter from Polacca, Ariz., whose works are created using traditional Hopi methods and are strongly influenced by Hopi mythology and culture. All of his pottery is hand molded using coiling and pinching techniques, then scraping and shaping.

“Lawrence uses only clay native to Hopi land, natural dyes for the painted surface of his works and the traditional Hopi firing process using sheep dung,” says Banana Factory Director Diane LaBelle. “Anyone who visits the Banana Factory while he’s here will be able to witness a very significant art form and process done by a native Hopi artisan. This is an opportunity that’s rarely available in this part of the country.”

Namoki, who grew up in the village of Walpi, Ariz., graduated from Phoenix Indian High School in Phoenix and served with the U.S. Army’s Special Forces Division. Upon being discharged from the Army, he returned to Arizona and began carving Kachina dolls. By the mid 1980s, he switched his focus to pottery and made his debut as a professional potter in 1985 at the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show in New Mexico.

Over the years, Namoki has received many honors for his work, including capturing the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show’s “Governor’s Award/ Best of Show” eight times. His pottery is on display at the Smithsonian Institute and in numerous other museums, galleries and private collections around the world, including the Arizona State University and Oregon State University permanent collections, the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, N.M, and in the home of one of the members of the Royal Family of England.

“The type of artwork I do cannot be taught in any educational institute,” Namoki says. “Only a true Hopi can do what I do, and he or she must understand the Hopi culture and the life of a Hopi to do artwork of this style.”

The reception for the Lawrence Namoki exhibition takes place April 4, 6-9 p.m. During the event, which is free, the public will have the opportunity to meet the artist and discuss his works and culture. As part of Namoki’s visit, the Binney & Smith Gallery also will be featuring a selection of works by internationally-known photographer Edward Curtis from March 28-April 22. The photographs, taken around the turn of the 20th Century, will focus on the life, culture and traditions of the Hopi people.

The public may also learn more about Namoki during a free lecture by the artist on April 2, 7 p.m., in the Banana Factory’s Banko Family Room Gallery.

The Banana Factory’s Binney & Smith Gallery exhibitions are underwritten by Cornerstone, and the artist-in-residence program is sponsored by US Airways. For more information on Lawrence Namoki, contact the Banana Factory at 610-332-1300 or visit www.bananafactory.org.

The Banana Factory is a nonprofit community arts center and gallery featuring 25 studio artists, community classrooms, a gift shop and more. The facility offers a wealth of community outreach programs, award-winning arts-in-education programs and classes and workshops throughout the year. Its mission is “to kindle, support and celebrate the artistic, cultural and creative spirit of the Lehigh Valley.”


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