Artist Randy Walker weaves the final strands through the olla during a community celebration for the piece.
Using the concept of Wordflow—the thematic link for public art at the Southside Branch Library, which likens the power of knowledge to the power of water in developing and sustaining community—I began to consider the objects that people historically used to interact with water. In my research, the olla, or water jar, struck me as a profound form. Traditionally used to collect, transport, and store water it is a part of five centuries of Pueblo pottery history, and continues to develop and transform based on the individual artist creating the pot, and the traditions and materials the artist chooses to invoke. Beyond carrying water, an olla can be fixed in time and identify a specific Pueblo or artist by its color, firing process, shape, and surface ornamentation. An olla, thus, communicates visually, without written words.