Maria Martinez (1887 – 1980)
Maria Martinez is a woman who has worldwide fame. Appreciation for her life, culture, and body of work goes far beyond the Southwest. Through her hard work and generous sharing of her techniques, Maria reintroduced the art of pottery making to her people, providing them with a means of artistic expression and for retaining some aspects of the pueblo way of life.
Around 1919-1920, Maria and her husband Julian Martinez created the “black-on-black” style of pottery. This unique process allowed matte designs to be painted on a stone polished surface and the entire piece to be fired black. This was a unique and distinctive style of pottery. She was married to Julian Martinez, and they collaborated on their work until his death in 1943. She then worked with her daughter in-law, Santana, on her pottery. Maria made the pieces, and Santana did the painting. Maria then worked with her son, Popovi Da in the mid 1950’s. Again, she coiled the pottery and Popovi Da did the painting. These works are widely sought out.
Maria became so admired for her skill that she was specially invited to the White House four times, and she received honorary doctorates from the University of Colorado and New Mexico State University. She is considered one of the most influential Native Americans of the 20th century.