Thursday, March 12, 2009

Maria Montoya Martinez

Maria Montoya Martinez was born around 1880 on the San Ildefonso pueblo and probably is The most famous of all the American Indian potters, with a career spanning 85 years. She and her husband, Julian, created the first black-on-black ware, forever changing the economy of San Ildefonso pueblo. Maria grew up creating the typical polychrome pottery of her pueblo until she and Julian were requested by some archaeologists from the Smithsonian Institution to recreate pottery like the black shards unearthed during an excavation in 1908 on the pueblo. They worked on the technique until they had perfected the use of slips to create the matte pattern and how to create the black color from red clay by firing the vessels in a reducing atmosphere using manure and ash. Maria never did her own painting, but she worked in collaboration with her husband Julian, son Popovi Da, son Adam and daughter-in-law Santana who did beautiful designs on her pottery. During the 1960-70s she created some pottery that was without designs and signed them with her Indian name Maria Poveka.


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