Hooded Owl Effigy Jar

Artist: Scott Roberts

This piece represents containers members of the Mound Builder culture would have created to store seeds between fall harvest and spring planting. “The owl represented something that would take care of the rodents,” said artist Scott Roberts. Some tribes see owls as a bad omen, but Roberts said that is a distortion on the original symbolism of the owl. “It was a protector, offering warnings of danger.” Encountering an owl is a call for vigilance, not a certain harbinger of doom. Within Roberts’ tribe, the Muscogee (Creek), the owl represents wisdom and knowledge, making it an extremely appropriate piece for the Oklahoma Judicial Center.

Roberts has been interested in Native American culture and pottery all his life. He hand digs and processes his own clay from two beds in Wetumka, Oklahoma, which he prefers over commercial clay. He uses traditional primitive methods, including a technique he developed called wedge coiling, which leaves no visible signs of coiling in the finished piece.

Roberts also has Choctaw heritage, but tribal traditions and culture were not acknowledged during his youth. “My grandmother was sent to a boarding school where she was abused,” he said. “She impressed upon us that we should never learn the language or tell anyone that we were Indian.” Roberts curiosity prompted him to do research and study on his own. As an adult, he joined the Oklahoma Anthropology Association and the Central States Archaeological Society in the early 1970s.

Since retiring as an auto body technician, pottery has become Roberts’ primary focus and he is enjoying great success, with his pieces included in many permanent collections, including the White House Collection. Roberts signs each of his pieces with his hallmark, a hand and eye representing the Great Protector. The Hooded Owl Effigy Jar was purchased for the Oklahoma Judicial Center Collection.