Manygoats, Elizabeth

Dineh potter Elizabeth Manygoats with one of her Dineh Lifestyle pots
Born into the Navajo Nation in 1972, Elizabeth Manygoats grew up in a large family in the Tonalea area, near Navajo National Monument in northeastern Arizona. While Elizabeth’s mother, Betty Manygoats, taught all her children how to make pottery, only Elizabeth works full-time as an artist now.

Her mother and grandmother are famous potters but Elizabeth says she is a self-trained artist. She first started making clay pieces as a child and then later learned to make pots and bowls. Then she got some ideas from one of her neighbors (Silas Claw) and she began adding appliqué figures to her pots and bowls. She has said that some of her pieces take more than five hours to paint.

Elizabeth’s work expresses the day-to-day culture in which she lives. A skilled potter who hand makes and fires her pieces by age-old methods, her traditional Dineh pottery is often decorated with horned toads, ears of corn or prickly pear cactus. She also sometimes creates pictorial scenes of daily Dineh life for what she calls her “Navajo Lifestyle Pots.” These are much like the designs found on many hand-woven Navajo rugs.

The figures and design elements she uses are appliquéd and glazed in lifelike colors. After firing she usually applies the typical Dineh coating of piñon pine pitch to her works.

She often signs her work: “EM” with “Diné”. Sometimes she signs as “E. Manygoats” in cursive letters, and sometimes she adds the year in which the piece was made.

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