NCMA Recommends: Maria Martinez, Bowl

Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, 1887—1980) and Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, 1885—1943), Bowl, circa 1942—43, polished blackware pottery with matte paint, H. 6 1/4 in., Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John R. Lambert

When you visit the free exhibition Becoming the NCMA: 10 Decades of Collecting, 1924—2022, currently on view through August 21, you’ll have the opportunity to see a stunning work by Tewa potter Maria Martinez.

Martinez is renowned for innovations in her ancestral blackware tradition. Partly inspired by the discovery of ancient Pueblo black-on-black sherds excavated in New Mexico’s Pajarito Plateau region, Martinez and her husband, Julian, redeveloped the technique. Maria shaped and polished vessels, Julian painted designs, and together they perfected the complex firing process.

When first revived, their now iconic black-on-black technique diverged from the polychrome pottery widely produced by Pueblo artisans. Though objects such as this are traditionally utilitarian and not attributed to a single maker, this one is signed “Marie and Julian,” demonstrating the wide, non-Native market for their work. –Lauren Applebaum, Jim and Betty Becher Curator of American Art

Press Play

Watch a 1972 National Park Service film of Maria Martinez and her son Popovi Da demonstrating the traditional pottery techniques used in the Pueblo community of San Ildefonso. In a more recent PBS short, Martinez’s family members discuss her life and work.

Martinez’s Legacy

Explore the Pueblo communities of San Ildefonso and Santa Clara through this interactive tool and learn more about the historic significance of the black-on-black pottery technique used from prehistoric times through the present.

Tewa Tribute

Rose B. Simpson is a contemporary mixed-media artist who works from her home in the Pueblo community of Santa Clara. Her artistic practices encompass many mediums, from clay to performance to custom cars. Learn more about her tribute to the Tewa tradition and to Maria Martinez through her work on a custom 1985 Chevy El Camino, Maria.

Meet the Artist: Cindy Locklear

As part of the Museum’s Artist Innovation Mentorship (NCMA AIM) program, Lumbee basketmaker Cindy Locklear worked with middle school—aged youth at the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club in Robeson County this summer and taught them to make a traditional Lumbee woven pouch.

Locklear taught herself how to weave using a book, but when she shared her newfound skill with family members, they told her, “That’s in your blood!” In fact, Locklear came from a long line of traditional basketmakers. She carries on the tradition by sharing her talents with learners of all ages. The NCMA is honored to support the work of artists like Cindy Locklear through the NCMA AIM program as they pass their artistic knowledge on to the next generation.

Photos by Ashlee Moody


Aug 12, 2022


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