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Julian Martinez (aka Pocano)

Native American

Maria Martinez

Native American

Date unknown

4.5 x 5.75 x 5.75 in.
Gift of Richard A. Harrison

The production process was complex and could require weeks to create. María and Julian’s distinctive style combined a glossy and matte surface. First, they gathered clay and volcanic ash from the land surrounding the pueblo. Mixing these materials together created the basic clay body which was shaped with traditional gourd tools. Once dried, the surface of was highly polished with a river stone. Julian, an accomplished painter and water colorist, would use liquid clay to paint the desired contrasting matte surface design.

Once the object had dried, María and Julian’s firing process determined the coloring of the clay. In Olla, the black coloring is achieved through a reduction firing process, which reduces the oxygen in the firing pit by smothering the flames with dry horse dung. This causes a chemical reaction by trapping the carbon, which blackens the clay body with the trapped smoke.

The development of María and Julian’s work can be traced through how each vessel was signed. Among Puebloan cultures, it was seen as taboo to sign their artwork. As their objects grew in popularity and found financial success on market, the couple was encouraged to sign their work. The black-on-black Olla was signed María + Julian.

Matthew Limb

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