Essay on Maria Martinez and Her Pueblo Pottery

Essay on Maria Martinez and Her Pueblo Pottery

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Maria Martinez and Her Pueblo Pottery


One of the most well known figures of the twentieth century pottery world is Maria Martinez. Maria Martinez is a Pueblo Indian part of the San Ildefondo tribe. Pueblo pottery from the American Southwest holds a unique place in ceramic art forms of American art. It is full of age-old tradition and culture handed down form family members and potters of the past. The old Pueblo ways of creating it still hold true today and have not been changed or influenced like so many other styles in modern times.

One of the amazing factors involving Maria Martinez's work has been the incredible length of time that she has spent in producing her pottery. Her life has been spent learning, perfecting, teaching and expanding her art, passion and craft. Maria was born in the 1880?s and had been an active potter for over 70 years. Taking in to consideration the difficulties of the environment where she lived and worked, acquiring the needed materials for her work and the labor and physical energy required along with it, the sheer tenacity with which she has produced her work is inspiring.

Maria did not merely buy her clay and materials in a local art supply, for in her pueblo culture and village, there weren?t any. Instead, as her ancestors did for numerous years before her, she learned how to harvest and collect the materials she needed to produce her work form then earth and surround lands of her village. Kilns were hand made and fired. Clay was dug from the ground and prepared in the same manner it had been taught and passed down from her ancestors. Glazes and finishing materials were also produced by hand (Peterson 48).

Her curiosity is also to be admired as she asked the traditional artist questions of, ? what will happen if I want to do or make this, but I am not sure how, what do I do next?? (Maloof 28). It has been said that ten percent of true artist endeavors are inspiration, and ninety percent are perspiration. In Maria?s case that surely holds true. A great artist is always recognized in his or her ability to see in different ways than the rest of the world and then translate that vision into a form for others to see and understand. It is this idea that defines an artist.

As a young woman, Maria was known as the most skilled potter of her pueblo tribe. For this reason, an archaeologi...


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...ureau of Indian Services attempts at creating positive role models for their students. Unfortunately Malodor?s plans did not materialize before she left the Indian Service and the information she collected about Maria?s life, work, and art, nor the plans Maloof had made to use it were not picked up by anyone else.

Maria Martinez?s pottery remains of major collecting interest in the art world due to its supreme sophistication. It dispels the myth that primitive people were incapable of sophistication which may stand the test of time, glow with a maturity and fluidity of design, and reflects the earth philosophy which paraphrases that we as humans are also basically clay vessels capable of great beauty (West).

Works Cited:

1. Anthony, Alexander. Matriarchs 1983 Pp pG.

2. Maloof, Alfreda Ward. ?Maria Martinez Makes Pottery? Recollections from My Time
in the Indian Service. 1935 ? 1943. Living Gold Press. Jan 1999.

3. Peterson, Susan. The Living Tradition of Maria Martinez. 1977. Kodansha
International, New York.

4. West, Richard. ?Jewel of New Mexico?, Country Living, Jan 1,1998. Vol 21 pp 22(3)

5. www.Infoseek.com Feb. 28, 2001.

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