Plate with avanyu design


María Martinez ( San Ildefonso, American, 1887 - 1980 )


Santana Martinez ( American Indian )

San Ildefonso Pueblo
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General Description

This black-on-black plate by famed Pueblo artist Maria Martinez combines ancient Indian symbolism and ceramic techniques with a sleek austerity akin to 20th-century American design aesthetics. Martinez began experimenting with blackware following a commission from archaeologists to re-create ancient Indian pottery excavated near San Ildefonso, New Mexico. Working with members of her family, here her daughter-in-law, Santana, Martinez spent seventy years practicing early firing processes and perfecting her own iconic polished designs set within a matte band and a polished background.

The ceramic plate here pictures an ancient Pueblo motif, the avanyu, a feathered water serpent. The movements of the avanyu accentuate the geometric circularity of the plate. The lightning tongue of the avanyu symbolizes a drought and the need for rain. Over her lifetime, Martinez's exemplary craftsmanship became an emblem for Pueblo artistry and cultural heritage.

Excerpt from

Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, Label text, 2017, A. H. Meadows Galleries.

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