Maria Martinez: Master Artist

Philbrook
Oct 07, 2020 - Jan 03, 2021

A Philbrook Collection Installation.

Maria Martinez’s (San Ildefonso Pueblo, c. 1889-1980) sleek ceramic pieces catapulted her to fame, securing her legacy as one of the most influential Native artists of the 20th century. Collaborating with her husband, Julian (San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1879-1943) and other family members, Martinez perfected a complex process of polishing, painting, and firing pieces at just the right temperature to achieve a distinctive black-on-black surface that became her trademark.

For decades Maria demonstrated this process to thousands of people at World’s Fairs and expositions across the country. As her reputation grew, so did the demand for her work so she began signing her pieces. Previously, most art by Native women was simply attributed to their tribe, but Maria’s success helped pave the way for other individuals to gain recognition for their work. Maria’s legacy continues in her iconic work and the trail she blazed for Native women to be credited for their art.