“How a little girl from Washita County grew up to be an international artistic ambassador, her work admired by the most powerful couple in the world, is a fascinating story.  Redcorn also is a wife, mother, and has been an artist in residence at the Art Institute of Chicago.”    Doug Hill, Norman Transcript.

In the Art Institute of Chicago, Hero, Hawk & Open Hand, Jeri tells her story of reviving Caddo Pottery and connecting to her cultural past.  After seeing Caddo vessels in a museum, so compelling were these beautiful pieces, Jeri began a search to reclaim her history.  As there was no active potter in the Caddo tribe, Jeri began to teach herself.  Thus began her journey to rediscover the art of Caddo clay.

“Somehow the ancient pots spoke…not in so many words, but in ideas, in feelings, in shapes and forms forgotten, and those marvelous designs created in clay so long ago.  Caddo pottery gave her an instant connection to an ancestral past she had never really understood before…  So she set out on her own path, to find her peoples’ way back to the lost tradition.”

“Reviving a Lost Tradition”, University of Texas Website, Texas Beyond History.

Raised in Colony, Oklahoma on her Caddo father’s cotton farm, and working with her seven brothers and sisters, Jeri felt close to the earth.  Sometimes too close, it seemed: chopping cotton and pulling cotton, crawling in the rows of dirt.  But the hard work allowed her to appreciate the closeness of women who dug clay to make the pots that became her passion.  A self taught potter, Jeri uses the techniques of her ancestors.  Since she is reclaiming this lost art, she imagines what their tools were.  She hand coils, burnishes, engraves and wood fires her pots. 

“Jereldine Redcorn, a Caddo native, has learned the lost art of Caddo pottery making, and video clips guide you through the traditional art of Caddo pottery construction.” Click on link below to see video:

Jeri in video from SNOMNH, University of Oklahoma:

The closeness she feels to her tribal roots is one of pride for the songs and dances the Caddo people keep.  She loves to dance and is at Caddo dances at every opportunity.  Some of the many Caddo traditional dances include the bear, duck, fish, turkey and alligator dances.  And in her research she found effigies in those animal forms - a connection to her Caddo ancestors.

caddo dance
Jeri and Amos Pewenofkit dance the Caddo Bear Dance at Shreveport, Louisiana.

Photo by Carol James

She discovered the clay around the Red River is extremely workable.  Digging and making the clay body requires a closeness to E-nah wah-dut, mother earth, that body we all come from. 

“Redcorn is passionate about preserving the heritage and art of Caddo potters.”

“After reviving lost art of Caddo pottery, Redcorn named 2009 Red Earth Honored One” Daily Oklahoman

Jeri Redcorn, Omni Hotel, Austin, Texas
Photo by Mary Cross Patterson

“When ‘Intertwining Scrolls’ was selected for the White House Oval Office by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Jeri felt both an excitement and validation of art designs inspired by her Caddo ancestors. The National Museum of the American Indian purchased…the bottle in 2005. “

Caddo Queen of Clay

“This was significant recognition for the artist’s one-woman resurrection of the traditional Caddo methods in making pottery.”

Doug Hill, Norman Transcript

“There’s no way Redcorn could have known that someday this piece would be chosen by first lady Michelle Obama for display in the White House’s Oval Office.”(“Caddo Queen of Clay” Norman Transcript)

white house bottle
“It’s quite an honor to have my work selected along with other artists such as Maria Montoya Martinez,”

Doug Hill “Caddo Queen of Clay”, Norman Transcript

Intertwining Scrolls
Displayed in the White House
Oval Office Photo by Jeri Redcorn

The journey to reclaim her history, her clay heritage has been rewarding. “Redcorn rekindled the Caddo pottery fire single-handedly and now has lit the flame in other young hearts.” (Doug Hill, Norman Transcript) Her Potawatomi mother gave her tribal name, Tse Bi Quah, meaning River Woman. Appropriate as she gathers clay at the river.

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