Lillian Pitt began working with clay as a medium at the age of thirty-five. At this early stage, for inspiration, she looked in books and copied various indigenous mask forms in clay.
With the encouragement of R.C. Gorman as well as the support of Vance Perry, Christy Runyan, and Pat Horsley, Pitt learned about clay bodies and the techniques of hand building, glazing, and raku firing.
As Pitt worked with indigenous images, she also began to search for a way to present her own tribal experiences, and began to make masks representing Spilyay (Coyote), Stick Indians, and other characters in the stories she grew up with at Warm Springs.
Pitt is clearly one of the great innovators within her own tribal tradition…
She has chosen to work in clay using Asian techniques like raku and anagama, to work in bronze or precious metals, to incorporate wood, copper, glass, shell, leather, feathers, and a wide variety of materials, and to mix media and technologies worldwide.
At the same time, the content of this work is rooted in a Warm Springs/Wasco and Yakama world view and value system.
As we enter the 21st century, the work of Lillian Pitt whispers to us with the wisdom of her ancestors and tells us that the magic and miracles needed to make the future possible reside in ancient stories handed down for generations on both sides of the Columbia River Gorge.
Her artwork is a testimony to the greatness of her people and to her own quiet persistence as an artist committed to making clay speak.