Maria Martinez of San Ildefonso Pueblo is one of the most famous Indian potters in history. She grew up surrounded by potters and, in 1904, married artist Julian Martinez. The couple demonstrated pottery-making at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair and again at the 1915 San Diego World's Fair. They won "Best of Show" at the New York State Fair in 1925, and "Best of Show" at the Chicago World's Fair eight years later. These were only the first of many awards won for their pottery in the following years.
In 1943, after Julian passed away, Santana, Maria's daughter-in-law, began painting and polishing Maria's pots. After two European tours, the demand for Maria's pots grew even greater. Maria's son, Popovi Da, created new techniques and finishes for Maria's pots, and brought a good business sense to the existing strong family unity. Popovi Da and his son, Tony Da, helped keep pottery flourishing as an artistic movement.
Maria's ability to make beautiful, perfectly symmetrical shapes by hand is still unparalleled. Please also see "Maria Poveka" for more works of art by Maria.
Maria Martinez "Time Line" 1887-19801907-1943 Maria/Julian Period
1918- First pottery signed "Poh-ve-ha" by Maria, creation of "black-on-black" pottery
1923 - Began signing pots "Marie"
1925 - Julian's name added to pottery
1943 - Death of Julian
1943-1956 Marie/Santana Period
1956-1971 Marie/Popovi Period
1956-1959 - Signed "Maria Poveka" when pots were made only by Maria (no design)
1959 - Numbering system created by Popovi
1961 - Popovi creates Sienna, a two-firing process
1964 - First Black/Sienna ware 1971 - Death of Popovi
1980 - Death of Maria