As discussed in the textbook, Maria and Julian Martinez invented their unique style of black-on-black high polish pottery in 1918. It quickly became popular with collectors, and after 1920, white patrons suggested that Maria sign her pots. Sales were increasing, and to many buyers, a signature would increase the value of the pot. To Pueblo potters, signatures were not important, as those in the community knew how to recognize the style of individual potters. In the 1920s and 30s, Maria signed pots made and painted by others or pottery she had created in collaboration with other people. To the Western art world, this might seem to be misrepresentation. In the Pueblo worldview, where community balance and harmony are valued over the success of the individual, this was a way that other artists in the community could share in the wealth from Maria’s fame.
Discuss these questions:
Do you think Maria’s signature on Pueblo pottery was a misrepresentation?
Why do you think she signed pots made by others?
Can anyone find photos of Maria, her community, and/or examples of her art?