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 archaeologist asked her to recreate the original shapes of ancient black pots that he had excavated (Anthony ppPG). The challenge of the task took over the need to make new work or simply utilitarian work. It became her focal point of all her pottery work and effort. The work was an old style. One more labor intensive and eventually discarded. As with many other art forms, the original format is often considered less effective because it produces fewer actual pieces or the intended art. In reality, the tenacious effort applied in careful traditional processes allows the soul of the artist to infuse...