Shaped By Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez
by Anna Harber Freeman and Barbara Gonzales art by Aphelandra
Maria Povika Martinez created distinctive pottery that is highly prized by collectors. Her great granddaughter Barbara Gonzales and art educator Anna Harbor Freeman collaborated to tell her story with a picture book for young readers.
Maria lived in San Idlefonso Pueblo near Santa Fe, New Mexico where clay was an abundant resource. As a girl, she was fascinated with the process of creating pottery. When her early efforts were not successful, she turned to ko-kōo Nicolasa to teach her. Her aunt used Tewa traditional methods: combining clay with water and volcanic ash, rolling the mixture into coils, then building the pot’s walls and firing the vessels for hours in a pottery fire. Each step was accompanied by special prayers.
While still a young woman, Maria married and became a mother but never gave up her work as a potter.
Maria's Blackware is considered fine art. Her signed pieces are worth thousands. She was awarded several honorary degrees and invited to the White House. She and her husband demonstrated pottery making in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Her work can be viewed online.