The Norman Transcript

N-town stories

September 13, 2013

Christine McHorse exhibit at Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art fearlessly weds tradition and imagination



The young women listened to classical music, read books then discussed them and taught their little sister to play tennis.

“I had great mentoring from them as well as my dad and mom,” McHorse said. “They taught me that the world is my oyster and it didn’t stop there — you have the whole universe.”

When she was only 14 the older sisters persuaded their parents to let Christine leave their home in Arizona and join them as students at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. McHorse became a jewelry maker there, graduated and did post graduate work. She met Joel McHorse who became her husband and they went to live for a time with his grandmother, Lena Archuleta, in Taos pueblo.

Archuleta taught McHorse to make pottery that they sold in her curio shop. They went for excursions into the nearby mountains to dig for the mica-flecked clay that McHorse has continued to use throughout her career. Soon the young married couple moved to Santa Fe.

As a wife, and then mother, her creative spirit and sense of aesthetic freedom soared. She worked in the Navajo pottery style which was in stark contrast to the prevalent New Mexico pueblo kind around her.

McHorse grew up in a family whose motto is “Boredom should not exist.” It’s a motivating factor for her and she began intrepidly crossing artistic boundaries to escape monotony. McHorse took to creating the unexpected shapes, mass and lines that distinguish her Dark Light series. Recognition for her remarkable and unconventional work started coming from outside the United States. Her work demonstrates a universal appeal that’s gratifying to the artist because of her openness to other cultures and art of all types. McHorse has managed to break ground internationally while maintaining the fundamental use of micaceous clay from her roots.

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