Olla (Water Jar)
Arts of the Americas
On View: Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Northeast (Herstory gallery), 4th floor
Working in Po-Woh-Geh-Owingeh (San Ildefonso Pueblo), at the foot of the Black Mesa in north-central New Mexico, Maria Martínez invented a unique style of pottery featuring black-on-black designs, building on lessons learned from her maternal aunt’s use of clay.
Instead of a traditional potter’s wheel, Martínez adapted the bottom of an old plate or pot to form the base of the olla, utilizing hand-coiling techniques to build up its walls, a rounded piece of gourd to smooth its surface, stones to polish it, and finally, clay and boiled wild spinach plants to add designs before firing. Despite the lack of glazing, the burnished surface reflects light, throwing the matte abstract forms into subtle contrast.
overall: 7 × 9 3/4 in. (17.8 × 24.8 cm) (show scale)
The base has the artist’s signature, “Marie”. The accession number is
painted in red with a clear barrier layer on the base.
Gift of Graham and Megan Marks in memory of Barbara and Fred Marks
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Maria Martinez (ca. 1887-1980). Olla (Water Jar), ca. 1923. Ceramic, overall: 7 × 9 3/4 in. (17.8 × 24.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Graham and Megan Marks in memory of Barbara and Fred Marks, 2013.100.4. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , 2013.100.4_PS9.jpg)
overall, 2013.100.4_PS9.jpg., 2019
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