As a child growing up in the Haliwa-Saponi tribe of North Carolina, Senora Lynch developed a love for making pottery. Today, she shares her love and passion for the art all across the country.
Lynch is spending this week at Midway Middle School as a residency art teacher for the eighth grade art students. Her personal work is on display at the Victor R. Small House through March 30, and an artist reception is planned for Thursday night.
Described as a diverse artist, in pottery, basketry and beadwork, Lynch offers workshops in the different areas, but is known mostly for her pottery work.
“The spirit of clay has always inspired me,” Lynch shared. “Working in clay takes me back to my childhood days of playing in mud, a free spirit.”
Lynch says she became interested in making pottery at the age of 14, when she assisted her tribe’s elders with pottery class. She met a tribal potter 21 years later who agreed to teach her the craft of hand coiling, which renewed her interest. Since learning the craft, Lynch has created her own style of hand etched pottery. Her designs are original and reflect the beliefs that she grew up with, which trademarks her.
Midway Middle School art teacher Leslie Allen says she jumped at the opportunity when asked about Lynch coming into her classroom and working with her students.
“I would have loved to have had an opportunity like this when I was a child,” Allen said.
The artist residency and project was presented by the Sampson Arts Council and supported by a Grassroots Grant from the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.
Lynch creates her pottery at home, using the hand-coiling method. First, she pounds red clay and rolls it into long ropes. Next, she coils the ropes and stacks them to form the desired vessels shape, pressing them together. She then smooths the clay with her fingers and scrapes it with a tool to make the coils stick together. She continues to smooth and stretch the coils with her fingers, finally polishing the vessel with a rock to make it smoother and shinier.
To make a design, Lynch says she places white clay on top of the red clay and etches patterns in it with a fine tool. Then the vessel goes into a kiln. According to the artist, superstitions, sayings and stories from the Haliwa-Saponi tribe inspire the unique designs.
Lynch’s work has been exhibited at the North Carolina Museum of History, 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta Southern Cross Roads exhibit, National Museum of the American Indian and the National Women Museum of the Arts.
In 2007, Lynch was the youngest ever to receive the N.C. Folk Heritage Award for her work in promoting and preserving the culture of the Haliwa-Saponi people. Her designs have also made it on to the walkway of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus at the Frank Porter Student Union, and she has also been a subject of a book, The Contemporary Southeastern Pottery of Haliwa-Saponi Artist Senora Lynch, by Christopher Everette.
Her work is in the permanent collection of The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, Wesleyan College Mims Gallery in Rocky Mount, Hanging Rock State Park Danbury and the Piscataway Indian Museum in Brandywine, Md.
Lynch currently resides near her hometown of Hollister with her husband and daughter.
An artist reception will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.