Denise Chavarria is the granddaughter of Teresita Naranjo. She learned to make pottery from her grandmother, and her mother, Stella Chavarria, and incorporates many of their designs into her work.
Denise has carved out a beautiful depiction of the avanyu, a water serpent that the Pueblo people consider to be the guardian of water. Depicted as a horned serpent with lightning emerging from its mouth, the avanyu is believed to live in the Rio Grande and its tributaries.
The creature’s body typically looks like a rippling stream, and the lightning coming from its mouth signifies thunderstorms that bring rain. A common design in the pottery of Santa Clara and San Ildefonso Pueblos, the avanyu represents the importance of water for the Pueblo people.
- Vase handmade by Denise Chavarria (Santa Clara Pueblo)
- Natural clay with all-natural vegetal and mineral slip
- Crafted through traditional horizontal coil method
- Avanyu design
- Vase measures H 4 ¼” x W 3 ½ "
- Comes with a signed Certificate of Authenticity
Handcrafted works of Native American art require special care. For more information about proper care and cleaning, please read our Care Guide.
Denise Chavarria was born in the early 1960s, and is from the Tewa-speaking Pueblo of Santa Clara. She began working with clay at the age of 16. She was inspired by her mother, Stella Chavarria, to continue the long-lived family tradition of making pottery using ancient traditional methods. Stella taught Denise the fundamentals of working with clay, and encouraged her to continue the family tradition and add to the legacy.
Denise specializes in hand-coiling traditional black on black Santa Clara pottery. She signs her pottery as: Denise Chavarria, Santa Clara Pueblo. She is related to Teresita Naranjo (grandmother) and Loretta "Sunday" Chavarria (sister).
Santa Clara Pueblo, a Tewa-speaking Pueblo located along the Rio Grande river in northern New Mexico, has one of the most dynamic and innovative pottery-making communities in the world. Today, the Pueblo’s best-known pottery style is polished blackware with precisely carved sgraffito designs.
Blackware can be traced back to the 12th century and was revived in the early 20th century by potters from San Ildefonso Pueblo. Though their style is similar to San Ildefonso’s, Santa Clara potters set themselves apart by carving designs into the clay rather than painting them on the surface. This type of low-relief carving, called sgraffito, was a major shift in style that had a lasting effect on modern Pueblo pottery.
Blackware remains popular, but there are many Santa Clara artists who have developed their own signature styles. Known for their creativity, these potters experiment with non-traditional, asymmetrical vessel shapes, and contemporary design motifs. No matter their style, Pueblo potters from Santa Clara have an unbelievable mastery of their craft, making their handmade pots among the most valuable in the world.
The most celebrated and recognized art form of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico is pottery. Pueblo pottery is known around the world for its remarkable beauty and craftsmanship. It has been made in much the same way for over a thousand years, with every step of creation completed by hand.
Pueblo potters do not use a wheel, but construct pots using the traditional horizontal coil method, or freely forming the shape. After the pot is formed, the artist polishes the piece with a natural polishing stone, such as a river stone, then paints it with a vegetal, mineral, or commercial slip. Finally, the pot is fired in an outdoor fire or kiln using manure or wood as fuel.
Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Jemez, and Acoma Pueblos have distinctive pottery styles that are especially prized by collectors, but accomplished potters are working in all Pueblos.
Today, Pueblo pottery is an exciting and dynamic form, with many artists pairing traditional techniques with innovative and stylized designs. Those potters who continue to create pots using traditional methods possess an extraordinary level of skill, and their pots are highly valuable works of fine art that will be enjoyed for generations to come.Read our Native American Pottery Collector's Guide.
At Shumakolowa Native Arts, we guarantee that your purchase is an original and authentic work handcrafted by Native American artists as defined by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We ask our artists to complete an extensive certification process, providing a CIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) card and other documentation of their Native American heritage. Our team of experts carefully inspects every product to guarantee it is handcrafted using traditional, sustainable processes, and natural materials of only the highest quality. We record the place and date of each purchase, and pride ourselves in paying a fair price that allows artists to make a living practicing their craft.
Every work of handcrafted art comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by an artist or buyer. At a time when many commercially made products are being sold as handcrafted Native American art, our in-depth purchase process allows us to guarantee the authenticity of every unique piece of fine art we offer. For more than 35 years, we have made it a priority to visit artists in their studio or home to purchase their latest handcrafted pieces and learn about their work. We have developed lasting relationships with artists, as well as dealers and collectors, and we take pride in being a trusted destination for fine Native American art.