Maria Montoya Martinez

Maria was born in the late 1880s as a member of the Tewa-speaking pueblo of San Ildefonso in northern New Mexico. As a young girl, she learned to make pottery in typical Pueblo style–by watching and doing. She learned from two of the greatest potters of the time–her aunt Nicolasa Peña Montoya and Martina Vigil Montoya.

Traditional Pueblo pottery-making has always been a community endeavor. When Maria was young, her older sister Maximiliana Montoya painted her pots, and when she married Julian Martinez (an accomplished Pueblo painter) in 1904, he began to paint her pots. With his assistance, and later her son and daughter-in-law, Maria became a prolific, innovative, and inspirational Indian artist.

Museum of New Mexico