From the Jacket
PUEBLO POTTERY FAMILY
Maria Martinez is one of the great figures in the pottery world of this century; like Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, she has become a legend in her lifetime. The magnificent burnished black pottery perfected by Maria and her husband Julian in the second decade of this century is prized by collectors and museums throughout North America and Europe. Maria, a Tewa Indian of New Mexico's San Ildefonso pueblo, was born in the 1880s and has been active as a potter for over seventy years. Three generations of Maria's family continue her black-on-black pottery tradition, the younger potters adding techniques and trying new ideas while maintaining their Indian heritage.
As a young woman, Maria was known as the most skilled potter of her pueblo. For this reason, an archaeologist asked her to recreate the original shapes of ancient black pots that he had excavated. This request led her and Julian to produce the first black-on-black pieces in 1918, after several years of experimentation; Julian, an accomplished artist, did the decoration. As their black ware became more and more popular, Maria and Julian increasingly turned away from the polychrome ware of their pueblo and more toward the new burnished black style. After Julian's death in 1933, Maria worked with her daughter-in-law Santana and her late son Popovi Da, who continued his parents' experimentation to produce striking innovations.
Maria and her family come alive in the pages of this book. The principal inheritors of the family tradition are Adam, Maria's son, and his wife, Santana. Their granddaughter Barbara represents the youngest generation of Martinez family potters and makes original pieces of great vigor. Other family members have made unique contributions to the San Ildefonso pottery craft.
This book is the culmination of the author's nearly thirty-year association with Maria and her family. It is the only major book about Maria Martinez since Alice Marriott's classic work in 1948, and its 195 color and 139 black-and-white plates are the first photographic representation of Maria's life and work and of the work of her family of potters.