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CATAWBA INDIAN
MASTER POTTER:
Sara Ayers
1919-2002

Perhaps the best-known Catawba Indian potter in recent years was Sara Ayers (left), whose signed art is among the most sought-after by collectors. Born in 1919 on the reservation near Rock Hill SC, Sara later moved to West Columbia SC where she became a prolific producer of traditional and neo-traditional Catawba Indian pieces. Assisted by husband and fellow potter Foxx, Sara dug Catawba River clay she turned into fine pottery, firing it in a pit in her backyard. Sara received considerable recognition in her lifetime, including the South Carolina Folk Heritage Award. She is quoted as saying "Pottery is my life. It has helped me through some of life's rocky times." Sara died in 2002.

Sara's works are displayed in museums across the country, and photographs of her pottery are included in published compendia of Native American artwork. There are three signed pieces by Sara Ayers in the collection at Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History. One is a very dark, almost black pitcher that measures 4.25" x 4" and is undated (above right); another is a striking double-necked black and tan wedding vase that is 6.5" x 5" and dated 1987 (see below).

One of Sara Ayers' favorite themes was the Chief's Head--complete with headdress--which she used to adorn a variety of pottery pieces. A large three-legged pot (below), signed by her in the 1970s, is also in the collection at Hilton Pond Center. The piece, including heads, is about 9" tall by 11.5" long.

Photo of Sara Ayers courtesy Catawba Cultural Preservation Project
All other photos and text © Hilton Pond Center


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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this website--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.