The Living Legacy of Pueblo Potter Maria Martinez 



SANTE FE — On a typical summer season, tens of 1000’s of individuals go to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the biggest juried Native American artwork present and market on the earth, the Southwestern Affiliation of Indian Arts (SWAIA), also called Indian Market.

Whereas this yr marked the one hundred and first yr of SWAIA, different marketplaces additionally showcased Indigenous artists just like the Free Indian Market, and Pathways Indigenous Arts Festival, together with Albuquerque’s Shy Native Summer Market.

The Sunbeam Indian Arts Gallery cubicles illustrated an intersection of inventive household lineage, traditions, and inventive expressions. Their cubicles showcased conventional and up to date Pueblo pottery, but additionally included uncooked supplies discovered from the San Ildefonso hillside, and a youngsters’s guide titled Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez (2021) by Anna H. Freeman and Barbara Gonzales, together with an iPad looping the movie, “Our Quiyo: Maria Martinez” (2022) by director Charine Pilar Gonzales.

I ended to look at the movie and discuss with the multi-generational artist household who’re six generations of Pueblo potters. Charine Pilar Gonzales and her grandmother Barbara Gonzales, also called Than-Moo-Whé, from San Ildefonso Pueblo, shared that their familial matriarch Maria Martinez was one of many first taking part SWAIA artists. Thus, the household considers this weekend greater than a time to promote. For them, it’s additionally a time to host and educate, which is why their sales space is designed in a approach that invitations dialog.

Barbara Gonzales, who lived and realized from her great-grandmother, Maria Martinez, defined that she has been taking part out there since she was a baby, and remembers recollections of sleeping on her “bedroll” to get the “greatest spot” on the Palace of the Governors. Immediately, her household units up on the Free Indian Market in Federal Park. All through all of the a long time and modifications, for her and her household, it’s at all times been about internet hosting a “assembly of pals” and sharing artwork, tradition, and traditions.

Barbara Gonzales on the Sunbeam Indian Arts Gallery sales space (picture by Keanu John (Diné))

As a household of six generations of potters, they clarify that working with clay and making pots is a year-round affair, they usually all help totally different inventive capacities. Barbara and Robert Gonzales’s 4 sons and grandchildren help Sunbeam Gallery’s sales space via their diversified inventive intersections. Graphic artist, Derek Gonzales, son of Barbara and Robert, designed the sales space’s signage, which incorporates conventional Pueblo motifs. Brandan Gonzales focuses on black-on-black conventional bowls and plates, particularly the cornmeal bowl. Buffalo collectible figurines are Aaron Gonzales’ signature items along with conventional work. This yr, the oldest son Cavan Gonzales, who graduated from Alfred College in ceramics and world artwork historical past, examined optimistic for COVID-19 and couldn’t attend the market, which was a troublesome first for him. His daughter, Charine Pilar Gonzales, shared that this was her first time curating her dad’s sales space, which was crammed with conventional and polychrome items. She defined that folks stopped by the sales space and requested for her dad, “They aren’t simply vacationers, they’re pals. They watched me develop up too. They’ve watched me develop up on the pottery sales space. […] For me, the market has at all times been about constructing relationships and greeting folks. Speaking with folks. Having fun with the journey of the market. When the market is going on, I take it very critically. It’s a weekend to dedicate and showcase what [my] Dad, Grandma, cousins, and uncles have been engaged on all yr lengthy.”  

Among the sentiments of sharing and educating are supplies on the sales space, like a generational chart of the familial lineage, which highlights the names of household potters whose work bought on the desk. This visible help additionally serves to share that the pottery costs embody intergenerational data and worth. The uncooked supplies on the sales space illustrate and open conversations in regards to the course of of creating. These pots are made via a familial collaborative course of that features harvesting the clay from native hillsides, wedging, coil-building, sprucing, drying, pit-firing, after which post-production etching, décor, adornment, and stone placement.

Barbara Gonzales shared that she “apprenticed” along with her nice grandma, aunts, and uncles to grasp varied strategies. As a younger lady, typically she couldn’t go exterior to play, however as she acquired older, she understood that clay, ceramics, and artwork had been methods of opening doorways of chance and potential. Thus, each Barbara and Robert Gonzales fostered a house that centered on inventive studying and educating for his or her youngsters and grandchildren. At Sunbeam Indian Arts Gallery she shared, “I need to present all of the totally different inventive expressions of my household,” which vary from filmmaking, jewellery, portray, graphic design, and sculpture. All these interdisciplinary inventive expressions middle Indigenous storytelling, and whereas this weekend showcased their pottery, Gonzales additionally attended her granddaughter Charine Pilar Gonzales’s movie screening, River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh) ” (2023), which she additionally stars in. Pilar Gonzales credit working with clay to being a filmmaker as a result of it’s with clay she first realized about “collaborating” work with others, “listening” to the land, and permitting the story to completely take form. She shared, “Generally the story will take its personal route and you must respect that spirit. Identical with clay, you must respect that you’re working with the spirits.”

Charine Pilar Gonzales on the 2023 Indian Market (picture by Keanu John (Diné))

Lots of the relations echoed the same sentiment, that being a part of this household meant you had been going to contribute to the collaborative course of of creating pots, working with the land, and getting your fingers in clay. Pilar Gonzales shared, “I don’t bear in mind who stated this primary, most likely Maria [Martinez], however we come from clay and earth, and we return to clay and earth. In that approach, pottery is about life itself. As host of [the Indian Market], sharing what we comprised of this land and providing it to the folks is full circle.”

Ceramics and clay are humanity’s most historical applied sciences, and Barbara Gonzales prompts everybody to “study your tradition and nationality. Study your land. Study the place to seek out your individual clay supply. Give you your individual design and revive your individual conventional artwork. Study your individual traditions.”

Land acknowledgments have change into an institutionalized observe that’s meant to acknowledge Indigenous folks, however usually undermine their sovereignty and sometimes lack restored motion. Usually, at an occasion when a land acknowledgment is shared, the assertion evokes past-tense verbiage of ancestral homelands, as if these lands are now not stewarded by Indigenous peoples. I witnessed many land acknowledgments through the SWAIA weekend, but I imagine there may be nonetheless work to be carried out to make these acknowledgments actionable. Talking with this household opened up cultural conversations and understanding of how this weekend isn’t merely in regards to the market, however reasonably about relations and as company of the Tewa group and artists.

Charine Pilar Gonzales stated, “We invite our kinfolk from different tribes to return and be part of Indian Market and stroll on our land and really feel the power and energy that we have now right here, Indian Market will at all times be about pottery, household, and Tewa folks.” 


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