Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and Popovi Da (1922-1971) - San Ildefonso Black on Black Jar, Circa 1950
Signed 'Maria - Popovi'. Few craft ...
moreMaria Martinez (1887-1980) and Popovi Da (1922-1971) - San Ildefonso Black on Black Jar, Circa 1950
Signed 'Maria - Popovi'. Few craft artists, Native American or otherwise, can claim worldwide fame and appreciation, but these accompanied the life of potter Maria Martinez of San Ildefonso Pueblo. San Ildefonso Pueblo is a quiet community located 20 miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Maria Antonia Montoya was born there, probably in the year 1887. For nearly one hundred years, until her death in 1980, Maria lived in the pueblo, eager to greet visitors and to share her craft with those who would like to watch and listen. Maria's fascination with pottery making started at a young age, when she would watch her aunt making pots, after her chores were done. Although many women in the pueblo knew how to make pottery, by Maria's time it was no longer a necessary part of daily life.
Inexpensive Spanish tin ware and Anglo enamelware had replaced traditional containers and cooking pots. In many ways, the art of pottery making was facing extinction. Fortunately, Maria's interest and willingness to experiment with techniques prevented this from occurring. Not long after her marriage to Julian Martinez, Maria was asked to replicate some pre-historic pottery styles that had been discovered in an archaeological excavation of an ancient pueblo site near San Ildefonso. These excavations of 1908 and 1909, led by Dr. Edgar Lee Hewett (who was also the director of the Museum of New Mexico), produced examples of many pre-historic pottery techniques. Dr. Hewett asked Maria, who already had a reputation in the pueblo for being an excellent pottery-maker, if she could make full-scale examples for the museum of the polychrome ware. It was then that Maria and her husband, Julian (who painted the designs on the pottery after Maria shaped them), began an artistic collaboration that would last throughout their lives together. Maria and Julian refined their pottery techniques and were asked to demonstrate their craft at several expositions, including the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the 1914 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, and the 1934 Chicago World's Fair. Part of their success came from their innovations in the style of black-on-black ware.
Although other pueblos, such as Santa Clara, had been producing black wares, Maria and Julian invented a technique that would allow for areas of the pottery to have a matte finish and other areas to be a glossy jet black. Through experimentation that began in 1919, they created a style that would become world famous. Part of the uniqueness of San Ildefonso pottery is the clay that is used, which comes from their reservation. Dried clay and volcanic ash are collected yearly from selected locations throughout the reservation, and later combined with water in small batches.
The clay from each pueblo has its own mineral composition, allowing for rich differences in texture and color. The watery clay slip that is used on the black wares, for example, has a rich iron content that turns black when fired in a particular way. After a batch of clay is mixed and has set for a few days, a "pancake" of clay is formed and pressed into a puki, beginning the process of building a pot. The puki is a bowl-shaped form that supports the bottom of the pot as it is being built. Most commonly, pots are formed with a coil technique, in which long snake-shaped coils are circled around the base of the pot and blended together to create the walls of the vessel. less
2.75ʺW × 2.75ʺD × 3.75ʺH
ExcellentMinor wear consistent with age and history
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