Texture and Color with King Houndekpinkou

 Artwork Exploration
Tall cylindrical, textured vase with bulbous top.

Look closely at The Black Widow, an artwork from the Museum's Collection. Then, follow along with the prompts below to explore, learn more, and create a clay vessel of your own!


  • What do you see? 
  • List all of the colors you can find. 
  • If you could touch the artwork, what do you think it would feel like? 
  • Do you think different parts of the artwork might have different textures? 


  • This artwork is a stoneware vessel, which means it is a container made out of clay. 
  • The artist who made this artwork, King Houndekpinkou, lives and works in France. When he made The Black Widow he was inspired by artistic traditions of Benin, Africa, where his father was born, and also Japan. 
  • Houndekpinkou is often inspired by different qualities of plants and animals, especially qualities that offer protection (like spikes and thorns). This kind of natural protection feels sacred to the artist. 


  • Why do you think the artist added spiky, thorny pieces? What mood or feeling do you feel when you look at the sculpture? 
  • The artist called this sculpture The Black Widow. If you could give it a new title, what would you call it? 
  • Does this artwork remind you of anything? Why? 
  • How do you think the artist created the different textures? 


  • Create your own clay vessel! You'll need clay (air-dry clay or Model Magic are great options), objects for decoration, and tools (like a pencil or toothpick) for adding patterns. 
  • Start by rolling the clay into a ball with your hands. Poke your thumb into the middle of the ball to create an opening, then pinch the sides of the hole with your fingers to create a "vessel," or container. 
  • Once you are satisfied with your vessel, add objects (shells, buttons, plants, feathers, beads, whatever you have available) by pressing them firmly into the clay. 
  • Use a pencil or toothpick to draw patterns in the clay. 
  • Once your clay has dried, you can color it with markers if you wish. 
  • Make up a title for your sculpture and share it with a friend or family member. 


Image Credits

King Houndekpinkou
b. 1987 Montreuil, France; lives and works in Paris, France
The Black Widow, 2016
Black stoneware from Lanzarote (Canary Islands, Spain), white stoneware from Puisaye (Burgundy, France). Multiple layers of glazes (black and red) and golden luster.
23 5/8 x 9 13/16 x 9 13/16 inches
Accession date: 2017
Acquired with the generous assistance of a gift from Dorothy A. Sturman in memory of George L. Sturman by exchange