IACA Journal Fall 2013 - page 13

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makers from the Northeast weave
intricate baskets with amazing
shapes and colorful and fantastic
decorative effects.
Pottery vessels have been found
to be thousands of years old. First
used primarily for containers,
clay was also used for ceremonial
artifacts and sculptures, then as
a consumer product for tourists,
and finally as a form of fine art for
collectors. Two legendary figures
in the Southwest, Nampeyo (Hopi)
and Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso
Pueblo), created dynasties of potters
from their interest in experimen-
tation and revival of ancient styles.
Nampeyo didn’t copy the patterns
she found on ancient shards, but
used them as a basis for completely
new forms and designs. Already
making small clay items for the
tourists, her Sikyatki revival work
became a highly praised and sort
after art form.
The San Ildefonso Pueblo in the
early 1900s was suffering a severe
economic depression. Then in the
1920s Maria Martinez and her hus-
band, Julian Martinez, rediscovered
how to make the black-on-black
pottery that became world fa-
mous. At the same time, the tourist
industry was booming in the South-
west and the popularity of Maria
Martinez’ black-ware had a huge
positive impact on the pueblo. The
influence was not just economic.
Later in the 20th century black-on-
black and carved pottery continued
to be refined and a new generation
of artists started experimenting
with techniques and slips. Today,
San Ildefonso Pueblo is one of the
best known Pueblos because of the
legacy of Maria Martinez.
Contemporary potters and basket-
makers continue to experiment.
Whether traditional or modern in
style and design, their work is seen
and valued as beautiful and valuable
Native American art.
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