Maria Martinez

(Maria Antonia Montoya)
Born: 1887
Birthplace: San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico

As a child of the Native American Tewa tribe, Maria was interested in pottery making, which was then in decline as mass produced dishes were gaining in popularity. By the time she married Julian Martinez, Maria was a respected potter and had exhibited her work at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. In 1908, Dr. Edgar Lee Hewett, director of the Museum of New Mexico, asked Maria if she could create reproductions of ancient pottery uncovered at nearby archeological sites. Maria crafted the pottery, while Julian painted the designs, beginning a long collaboration. Maria developed a technique for producing distinctive black on black pottery, where black designs are visible against a shiny black background. After Julian died in 1943, other family members continued to work with Maria. Since her death, her work has become valuable to collectors.

Died: 1980