Poster for 2017 Haan Lecture

Hartwick Hosts Hopi Indian Experts for Haan Memorial Lecture

February 27, 2017

Hartwick College will bring two renowned experts on Hopi Indian culture to campus to deliver the 2016-17 Haan Memorial Lecture. Karen K. Charley, a Hopi traditional potter, and Dr. Lea S. McChesney, a cultural anthropologist and museum curator, will present “Pottery Connects Us: The Social Value of Pottery and Hopi Cultural Heritage,” on March 9 at 7 p.m. in Slade Theatre, Yager Hall, on the College campus. A book signing will follow.

Collaborating for more than 20 years in their work on Hopi pottery, Charley and McChesney will discuss the social value of pottery both within Hopi communities and for sale in the marketplace, exploring potters’ aesthetics embodied in this art form.

They will also discuss a larger project now underway to foster Hopi preservation of this unique cultural heritage, involving potters from Charley’s community, the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Mesa Media, Inc. (a Hopi non-profit agency dedicated to language preservation), and the Smithsonian Institution’s Recovering Voices Program.

Charley, believed to be the first Hopi Indian guest of the College, comes from a family and clan (Butterfly-Badger) known in Arizona for its pottery, and has been active in the market for nearly 30 years. Her mother, Marcella Kahe, was named an Arizona Living Treasure and is recognized widely as an expert traditional potter. Charley has served as a Hopi advisor on pottery-related cultural heritage projects. She is a core member of the Smithsonian Institution’s Recovering Voices “Hopi Pottery Oral History Project,” and is the Lead Potter on the Arizona Commission on the Arts grant for the upcoming First Intergenerational Hopi Pottery Festival. Her award-winning work is held in multiple institutions and private collections.

McChesney works principally in the US Southwest, where her research focuses on understanding the transformation of Native arts during the 20th century, and the legacy of museum collections to ongoing indigenous cultural heritage. She has curated exhibitions and taught at multiple universities. Recently her work has stressed the role of indigenous knowledge and artistic intent simultaneously with a critical understanding of Western institutional practices. Her other research interests include the history of American anthropology, economic anthropology, and sexual violence.

Earlier in the day, the pair will meet with the museum studies class “Creative Exhibitions: The Power of Display” at Yager Museum of Arts and Culture, which will also feature a display of Hopi artifacts. The Museum will host a pre-Lecture reception from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., and a pottery sale.

Professor of Sociology Dr. Katherine O’Donnell explained how Charley and McChesney were selected to deliver the Haan Lecture.

“Through our participation in the 2012-13 School for Advanced Research Seminar, ‘Artisan Production and the World Market: Collaborating in Theory, Methods, Practice,’ in Santa Fe, NM, and collaboration on the book, Artisans and Advocacy in the Global Market: Walking the Heart Path, I learned of the Hopi view of pots as animate, speaking subjects and wanted Karen and Lea to share their amazing research with our community,” she said.

The Lecture is funded by The Richard L. Haan Fund for Native American Studies.

For additional information on the Haan Memorial Lecture and related events, contact O’Donnell at 607-431-4894 or