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Nola Campbell was born in 1918 on the Catawba Indian Reservation. She is one of seven children to James Davey and Maggie Price Harris. She started making potter around the age of 12. By the age of 15, Nola was well on her way to becoming a master potter. She learned to make coil-formed pottery from Master Potter, Georgia Harris. Over the next 60 years, Mrs. Campbell followed the teachings of her mentor and produced some of the finest examples of Catawba pottery. While her pots fall within the traditional Catawba forms, her work stands apart for its excellent artisanship and craftsmanship. She shared her gift by providing support and teaching her techniques to the next generation of Catawba potters. Nola was awarded in 1999 with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award.
Amelia, or Amy, is an up-and-coming young Catawba artist. She is the daughter of Ronald Canty and Dawn Schutte-Canty. Great-granddaughter of Fannie Harris, Alonzo Canty, and Ephraim George. Her mixture of meticulousness, traditional, and modern concepts brings a unique vision with each dreamcatcher she makes. No two are alike. Her love for her heritage is what pushes her forward to utilize her talents in a positive way.
"Just like the web of a dreamcatcher, bad things in life can catch us up but if we wait patiently until the sun rises those things will no longer hold us back."
Eric Canty traces his roots to one of the greatest master potters of the 20th Century Emma Canty Brown. He also spent time with his aunt Catherine Sanders Canty, another noted master potter. Their influences can be seen in his work. Eric has been making traditional pottery for many years now. He is known for producing highly traditional pieces, from animal effigies to pipes and pots. He is busy learning over 100 shapes the Catawba are known to produce.
"I love to make my animal effigies: frogs, turtles, bears, and ducks. I can spend hours working on one small piece."
Kristine Carpenter has worked at the Catawba Cultural Center for 20 years. She loves practicing her culture in all aspects. She is the granddaughter of Mary Jane Blue and great granddaughter of Chief Nelson Blue.
"I love learning about my culture and history. When I am practicing our many art forms, it's like an escape from the troubles of today and focus on a part of myself and my ancestors."
Beckee is the granddaughter of former Chief Altbert H. Sanders, Sr. and great granddaugher of former Chief Samuel Taylor Blue. Beckee is the Catawba language coordinator, a basket maker, and a potter.
"I work in the clay because it’s a way for me to connect to my ancestors. Just as one day I will be the ancestor who will connect a future Catawba to the clay. When my hands are working the clay I let the clay tell me what it wants to be become as I see this as my ancestors are guiding my hands as well."
Wenonah is the Executive Director of the Catawba Cultural Preservation Project and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. She is also a dentist. In her "free" time she loves to do a number of crafts; bead work is one of her favorites. The many colors, sizes and textures intrigue her. She is the daughter of the Catawba Indian Nation's former assistant Chief and interim Chief, Evans M. George, Jr., who was in office for over 19 years.
"I have always found arts and crafts to be an outlet for stress. Native American bead work is both very relaxing and rewarding when a piece finally comes together. I am proud to be able to be a part of carrying on our tribe's traditional art of bead work!"
Jeannine Blue Roof is the granddaughter of Raymond Harris and Nola Campbell. She learned the pottery method from her grandmother and mother. She also enjoys making jewelry.
"I enjoy making jewelry. It helps me to relax and is very therapeutic to the soul."
-Jeannine Blue Roof
Catawba Indian Masterpotter, Caroleen Sanders, learned to make pottery in the traditional Catawba method by observing her mother, Verdie Harris-Sanders and many other extended family members including her aunts Nola Harris-Campbell, Viola Harris-Robbins, and Reola Harris. Caroleen, like her aunt Master potter Nola Harris-Campbell, worked professionally off the reservation for many years and began serious work in the clay in 1992. She now continues the tradition handed to her. She is one of 20 potters chosen in NC to be part of a documentary project by NC Pottery Center “The Living Tradition”.
"The vessel gives into the fire. Whether positive or negative, the fire tells all."
Great, great granddaughter of John and Rachel Brown; great granddaughter of Idle and Arzada Sanders. Nancy is blessed to have been able to spend time with her great grandparents. Beckee Garris taught Nancy to make pinch pots over 10 years ago and over the years she has learned more and more from several other potters. Nancy is excited to continue this tradition.
"I feel closest to my Creator when my hands are in the clay. I look forward to teaching my grandchildren. I would say my inspiration is my heritage and my grandchildren."
“Although I worked as a furniture maker and woodcarver for many years, I always knew that someday I would return to my Catawba roots as a maker of Native American pottery. Georgia Harris, my Catawba grandmother and a 1996 posthumous National Endowment of the Arts winner, was among the best potters in known Catawba history. Just as her grandmother, renowned potter Martha Jane Harris, had in the ancient craft of pottery making, my grandmother taught me how to make the pottery for which our tribe is known.
"As a young man in the 1970s, I accompanied my grandmother to the secret tribal clay holes to gather clay for the pottery that had for millennia served our people as a functional ware, the trade ware, and finally as the highly prized fine craft it is today. My grandmother showed me how to choose the clay deposits that would yield the strongest and most malleable clay, and then how to remove twigs and stones from the clay so that is could be formed, coil by coil, into the traditional pot forms of our people. She showed me how and when to rub the pots with river rocks to produce the characteristic soft patina and smooth surface of Catawba pottery. Together we tempered her pots in an open fire, where smoke from pine bark created mysterious patterns of black and grey on the earthy brown pots.
"When my grandmother died, I inherited an old tin box filled with the sea shells, rocks and broken spoons that she had used for 75 years to make her pots—cherished primitive tools that I use to make my own Catawba pottery. I inherited form her a set of handmade clay molds which she created to form the distinctive King Haigler head shape that decorated her pots for so many years, and that now decorates mine. She has been gone for over a decade, but when I watch my hands working the clay, I see her hands. And when I rake my own pots out of the burning coals, I remember her excitement at this most treacherous moment in the life-journey of a Catawba pot, and I feel not only her presence but the presence of centuries of Catawba Indian potters.”