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Press release

The Met to Present Exhibition Featuring Historical and Contemporary Pueblo Indian Pottery

Six examples of pottery with various decorated surfaces on top of a plain background next to the words "Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery"


Exhibition Dates: July 14, 2023–June 4, 2024
Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 746 North, The Erving and Joyce Wolf Gallery, The American Wing

Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery is the First Community-Curated Native American Exhibition at The Met, on view at both the Museum and the Vilcek Foundation

Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery will foreground Pueblo voices and aesthetics and will offer a visionary understanding of Pueblo pots as vessels of community-based knowledge and personal experience. The exhibition, opening at The Met on July 14, is the first community-curated Native American exhibition at the Museum and features more than 100 historical, modern, and contemporary items in clay. Although Pueblo pottery has long been exhibited within the context of Eurocentric timelines and Western concepts of art and history, Grounded in Clay gives voice to the Pueblo Pottery Collective, a group of more than 60 individual members of 21 tribal communities who selected and wrote about artistically and culturally distinctive pots from two significant Pueblo pottery collections—the Indian Arts Research Center of the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Vilcek Foundation in New York, New York. The exhibition will also be on view at the Vilcek Foundation, beginning July 13.

The exhibition is made possible in part by The Met’s Fund for Diverse Art Histories, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Hoopes Jr., and Valerie and John W. Rowe.

Education programs are made possible by Barry Appleton.

"This exhibition marks an important first in our institution’s history—a community-curated Native American exhibition that amplifies the stories, histories, and traditions of over 20 tribal communities and sovereign nations,” said Max Hollein, The Met's Marina Kellen French Director. “We are honored to collaborate with the Indian Arts Research Center of the School for Advanced Research and the Vilcek Foundation to bring this exceptional exhibition to New York audiences as we continue to work to increase Indigenous experiences and voices in The Met’s exhibitions and programs.”

Grounded in Clay shifts traditional exhibition curation models, combining individual voices from Native communities where pots have been made and used for millennia into an Indigenous group narrative. The approach illuminates the complexities of Pueblo history and contemporary life through the curators’ lived experiences, redefining concepts of Native art, history, and beauty from within, confronting academically imposed narratives about Native life, and challenging stereotypes about Native peoples.

“This significant exhibition, a first for the Museum, not only presents an exquisite range of historical through contemporary Pueblo pottery, it also powerfully foregrounds the voices and perspectives of Indigenous communities and creators,” said Patricia Marroquin Norby (Purépecha), Associate Curator of Native American Art in The Met’s American Wing. “It is essential that we present Native American art with guidance from Indigenous source communities, while encouraging inclusive and thoughtful dialogue. We are thrilled to host this exhibition at The Met and to work collaboratively with individual artists and community members.”  

Dating from pre-contact to the present day, the featured pots connect and distinguish the lives of Pueblo communities—from New Mexico’s 19 Río Grande Pueblos to the West Texas community of Ysleta del Sur to the Hopi tribe of Arizona. Grounded in Clay will be on view at both The Met and the Vilcek Foundation, at 70th Street and Madison Avenue. In addition to pottery, the presentation at the Museum will feature two commissioned works—a diptych by artists and members of the Pueblo Pottery Collective, Mateo Romero (Cochiti) and Michael Namingha (Tewa/Hopi), and murals by artists DeHaven Solimon Chaffins (Laguna and Zuni) and Mallery Quetawki (Zuni).

“When we started this exhibition project in 2015, we sought out partners to facilitate meaningful connections with Pueblo artists and cultural leaders,” said Vilcek Foundation President Rick Kinsel. “We identified SAR as a collaborator early on, and together we worked to establish the Pueblo Pottery Collective—a group of more than 60 community curators—to lead the selection of objects for Grounded in Clay. This cooperation allowed us to realize the vision of bringing the lived experiences and cultural knowledge of Pueblo community members to the forefront in this exhibition.”

The Pueblo Pottery Collective includes curators of diverse ages, backgrounds, and professions from Native communities. Curators selected works from the Vilcek and SAR collections and wrote about one or more items, thus emphasizing the exhibition’s focus on personal and community meanings as well as on the visual and material languages of pottery, while revealing their intimacy with pottery at home and in the greater Pueblo world. The curators’ firsthand knowledge of pots and potters, family rituals, traditional materials, and daily use grounds the exhibition’s themes of people and place. A thread of ancestral memory connects individual pots to the pride, pain, and living legacy of Pueblo peoples. These narratives are featured throughout Grounded in Clay, and in the accompanying catalogue.

Organized by SAR and the Vilcek Foundation, Grounded in Clay was previously on view at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Santa Fe, New Mexico, from July 2022 through May 2023. The exhibition celebrated the 100th anniversary of the creation of SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center’s pottery collection in 1922. 

“We are excited to offer The Met’s visitors this example of New Mexico's unique cultural heritage, here expressed through gorgeous Pueblo pottery and the poetic voices of the Native people whose communities created them,” said Michael F. Brown, President, School for Advanced Research.

Elysia Poon, Director of SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center, commented: “Pottery permeates the lives of Pueblo peoples. Within each community, there are both individual and shared experiences, and the resulting exhibition reflects these rich and complex narratives. We hope that as visitors experience Grounded in Clay, they will not only learn about the deep history of pottery within Pueblo communities, but also be inspired to consider the many stories embedded in the seemingly ‘static’ objects that surround their own daily lives.” 

Grounded in Clay is the fourth exhibition in the American Wing’s Erving and Joyce Wolf North Gallery presented in dialogue with Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection. This long-term installation, which debuted in 2018, features ongoing rotations of Indigenous artworks—historical, modern, and contemporary.

Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery at The Met is curated by Patricia Marroquin Norby (Purépecha), Associate Curator of Native American Art in the Museum’s American Wing. At the Vilcek Foundation, it is curated by Brian Vallo (Acoma), a member of the Pueblo Pottery Collective and former Director of SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center, who also served as an advisor on The Met’s Art of Native America inaugural display.

Grounded in Clay is on view at the Vilcek Foundation, by appointment only, from July 13, 2023, to June 4, 2024. To schedule a tour, please go to

The exhibition will be featured on The Met’s website, as well as on social media.

The Vilcek Foundation will create a digital experience to complement the exhibition, which will be accessible following the opening of the exhibition. For more information please visit the Vilcek Foundation’s website

Grounded in Clay is a collaborative exhibition curated by the Pueblo Pottery Collective, and organized by the School for Advanced Research and the Vilcek Foundation, in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The School for Advanced Research, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational institution, was established in 1907 to advance innovative social science and Native American art. Its 15-acre residential campus sits on ancestral lands of the Tewa people in O'gah'poh geh Owingeh, or Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Vilcek Foundation is a private operating foundation under IRS 501(c)(3) that raises awareness of immigrant contributions in the United States and fosters appreciation for the arts and sciences. The foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia.


June 6, 2023

Contact: Meryl Cates

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