Smithsonian Voices

From the Smithsonian Museums

Steeped in Memory: Amelia Joe-Chandler’s Hogan Teapot at NMAI

Nestled in an archival box in the storage vaults of the National Museum of the American Indian, I encountered a small, copper sculpture that points to an entirely different sense of place. Hogan Teapot (2013) by Diné (Navajo) artist Amelia Joe-Chandler is a living homage to the idea of home—particularly her family’s home in Dinétah, the ancestral homelands of the Navajo Nation in the American Southwest. The brilliancy of the copper recalls the traditional form of the hogan, a dome-shaped structure with a log or stone framework that is traditionally covered with mud that hardens like rock. With a door outlined in silver on the side, the lid handle as a stove pipe, and a cast tree and two small sheep as the handle, Joe-Chandler’s sculpture changes the ubiquitous form of the teapot into a site of personal encounter through these allusions to her family’s home.