Marvin and Frances Martinez

San Ildefonso
Marvin Martinez
Black on black jar with avanyu design
 

Marvin Martinez was born in 1964 into the internationally renowned family of Maria Martinez, the famous potter of San Ildefonso Pueblo. He is Maria's great grandson, grandson of Adam and Santana Martinez. His wife Frances is from Santa Clara Pueblo and they have three children.

Marvin and Frances create their pieces in the traditional way using clay gathered from pueblo land and hand-processed at home. They then hand-coil their pots, stone polish them, decorate them with designs in bee-weed and then fire their pots outdoors. Their favorite design is the avanyu (water serpent) which Marvin occasionally varies by adding rain coming down from the clouds in the avanyu design, as well as altering the teeth of the serpent.

It was Marvin’s great-grandfather Julian who started painting the avanyu design. It was Julian who also invented the matte black-on-black style back around 1919.

Marvin spent his childhood around potters and says, "I have memories of helping my grandparents, Adam and Santana, get supplies for firing pottery. I watched them make pots and paint them. I also traveled with them to Idyllwild [Arts Summer Program at the Idyllwild Arts Academy in California] in 1974."

This exposure to great artistry has given Marvin a deep appreciation for the now traditional designs begun by his family. "I would like for everyone to enjoy our pottery and give it a good home because we respect our clay, because it comes from Mother Earth, and we pray for good health for the whole world, and for all to live in peace and harmony," he states.

They sign their work: "Marvin & Frances Martinez, San Ildefonso".


 

San Ildefonso Pueblo

Sacred Black Mesa
Black Mesa at San Ildefonso Pueblo

San Ildefonso Pueblo is located about twenty miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, mostly on the eastern bank of the Rio Grande. Although their ancestry has been traced as far back as abandoned pueblos in the Mesa Verde area in southwestern Colorado, the most recent ancestral home of the people of San Ildefonso is in the area of Bandelier National Monument, the prehistoric villages of Tyuonyi, Otowi, Navawi and Tsankawi specifically. The area of Tsankawi abuts the reservation on its northwest side.

The San Ildefonso name was given to the village in 1617 when a mission church was established. Before then the village was called Powhoge, "where the water cuts through" (in Tewa). Today's pueblo was established as long ago as the 1300's and when the Spanish arrived in 1540 they estimated the village population at about 2,000.

That village mission was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and when Don Diego de Vargas returned to reclaim the San Ildefonso area in 1694, he found virtually the entire tribe on top of nearby Black Mesa. After an extended siege the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their village. However, the next 250 years were not good for them. Finally, the Spanish swine flu pandemic of 1918 reduced the tribe's population to about 90. The tribe's population has increased to more than 600 today but the only economic activity available for most on the pueblo involves the creation of art in one form or another. The only other jobs are off-pueblo. San Ildefonso's population is small compared to neighboring Santa Clara Pueblo, but the pueblo maintains its own religious traditions and ceremonial feast days.

San Ildefonso has produced fine ceramic art since early pre-Columbian times. The pueblo is most known for being the home of the most famous Pueblo Indian potter, Maria Martinez. Many other excellent potters have produced quality pottery from this pueblo, too, among them: Blue Corn, Tonita and Juan Roybal, Dora Tse Pe and Rose Gonzales. Of course the descendants of Maria Martinez are still important pillars of San Ildefonso's pottery tradition. Maria's influence reached far and wide, so far and wide that even Juan Quezada, founder of the Mata Ortiz pottery renaissance in Chihuahua, Mexico, came to San Ildefonso to learn from her.

San Ildefonso Pueblo location map

For more info:
at Wikipedia
official website
Pueblos of the Rio Grande, by Daniel Gibson
Photo is in the public domain



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