María Martínez (ca. 1887–1980) of San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, is one of the most well known American Indian potters in history. She copied polychrome motifs from prehistoric pottery excavated at nearby archaeological sites, reproducing the designs on her own vessels.
María and her husband, Julian, collaborated on crafting pottery and eventually innovated a style of black-on-black pottery with a glossy surface decorated by matte motifs. Like Hopi-Tewa potter Nampeyo (ca. 1860–1942), María reintroduced the art of pottery making to her pueblo, creating a renaissance in the craft of Pueblo pottery.
María was awarded the University of Colorado Recognition medal during the 1953 commencement ceremony. In return, María presented this prize-winning jar she had made to university president Robert Stearns. María was accompanied at the ceremony by her son John, his wife, and their two children.
After commencement, María and John conducted a sale of her pottery in the Museum art gallery (now the Paleontology Hall). María gave pottery-making demonstrations during the sale. The Museum bought the tools and ceramics-in-progress from the demonstrations for the anthropology collection. The university president's office transferred María's jar to the Museum in July 1953.
To learn more about María Martínez:
- The Living Tradition of María Martínez, Susan Peterson, 1977, Kodansha International, New York.
- Fourteen Families in Pueblo Pottery, Rick Dillingham, 1994, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
- María, Richard L. Spivey, 1979, second printing 1981, Northland Publishing.
- The Legacy of María Poveka Martínez, Richard L. Spivey, 2003, Museum of New Mexico Press.
María, The Potter of San Ildefonso, Alice Marriott, 1948, first edition, University of Oklahoma Press.