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Julian Martinez (aka Pocano)

Native American

Maria Martinez

Native American


1.5 x 12.5 x 12.5 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

The production of a piece was complex and could require weeks. María and Julian’s distinctive style combined glossy and matte surfaces. First, they gathered clay and volcanic ash from the land surrounding the pueblo. Mixing these materials created the basic clay body, which was shaped with traditional gourd tools. Once dried, the surface was brought to a high polish with a river stone.

The firing process determined the coloring of the clay. In some objects, the black color is achieved through a reduction firing, which reduces the oxygen by smothering the flames with dry horse dung. This causes a chemical reaction that blackens the clay body with trapped smoke. In Plate (1940), the fire was not smothered, which instead produced a rich, red-brown color. Julian, an accomplished painter and watercolorist, would then use liquid clay to paint the desired contrasting matte surface design.

María, Julian, and their family demonstrated their techniques at world’s fairs, workshops, and to potters and collectors who visited them in New Mexico. María freely shared her knowledge with others and uplifted her community economically. She remains a crucial historical figure in the history of the vessel tradition and the revival of Native American ceramics in the twentieth century.

Matthew Limb

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Your current search criteria is: Exhibitions is "Better Days 2020: Native American Pottery".

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