JULY 24, 1994


Born June 15, 1915, at Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico (NM), Helen first learned leatherwork but switched to making pottery due to cost. Unhappy with her bowls & pitchers, she tried figures instead. Cordero started with a seated female figure holding a child–known as Singing Mother. When she made this form, she kept seeing her grandfather, so she created a male figure called The Storyteller. Other figures include Water Carrier, Drummer, Mother with Children, and Turtle. Her work is found in the Museum of International Folk Art; NM Museum of Art; Texas Tech University Museum; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Heard Museum; Bandelier National Monument Museum; and Brooklyn Museum. Awards: NM State Fair & Indian Market; Heard Museum’s Annual Indian Arts & Crafts Show; and 1982 Governor’s Award for Pottery. Named a Santa Fe Living Treasure in 1985, she received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1986.

Sources:  “Helen Cordero, NEA National Heritage Fellowships.  Retrieved 1/11/2022, https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/helen-cordero
Photo:  Helen Cordero, circa 1985.  Storyteller with Twenty Figure.  Fired clay with slip and beeweed.  Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase made possible by Mrs. Gibson Fahnestock, 1997.124.148. Courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum

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