Peter B. Jones
LOCATION: Versailles, New York
2018 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD HONOREE
Peter is a clay artist of the Onondaga tribe in New York State. Returning to his homeland in 1977 after studies at the Institute of American Indian Art, he has worked to bring Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) pottery back to life in his home communities.
These pots reflect what was originally made with clay gathered from stream beds and altered with the addition of crushed shell, crushed granitic rock and sand to create a clay body that was useful and durable after it was fired.
Peter works within the Six Nations Iroquois communities of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora people.
“Because pot making had died out in our culture, I have studied our ancient pottery for over twenty-five years, trying to understand not only how it was made but also what it was used for and sometimes what the designs meant,” Peter says.
He shares this knowledge in classes and workshops throughout the Six Nations Communities. He says, “This returns to our people something that is uniquely ours.”
Carol Ann Lorenz nominated Peter for the CSA. She serves as a faculty member and museum curator at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
“I believe it is safe to say that Peter nearly single-handedly revived the making of clay pots in Iroquois country,” she says. “Largely through his efforts, there are dozens of Haudenosaunee artists working in clay today.
“Peter epitomizes the ideals of community connectedness and the giving spirit that the Community Spirit Award is designed to recognize and honor.”