Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez
Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez

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Series: She Made History   

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Annotation: The untold story of a Native American Indian potter who changed her field.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #256212
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8075-7599-2 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-9196-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8075-7599-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-9196-0
Dewey: 921
Language: English
School Library Journal Starred Review
K-Gr 3 This picture book celebrates the life of Maria Povika (18871980), a renowned Tewa artist who discovered a pottery firing technique that changed history. In late 19th-century San Ildefonso Pueblo, NM, Povika began making pottery at a young age. She gathered clay from the Rio Grande to make pots, but despite her efforts, they cracked after being left in the sun. She sought help from her Aunt Nicolasa, who taught Povika the tradition of san-away and the importance of thanking Mother Earth and preserving Tewa traditions by sharing clay knowledge. Later, Povika married Julian Martinez, who helped raise their family while Povika's artistic reputation continued to grow. In 1908, Povika was approached by an archaeologist, who asked her to make a pot based on a piece of ancient black pottery. While experimenting with different firing processes, Povika and Martinez accidentally created beautiful, glossy black clay pots. Soon, so many people wanted to buy their pots that Povika and Martinez had to train others in the Pueblo to mold and paint them. The couple was invited to teach their techniques, from San Francisco to New York and back to Tewa Pueblo again. After Martinez passed away, Povika shared her clay knowledge with her children and the Tewa people. Short, simple text conveys the significance of Povika's discovery. Soft, colorful illustrations provide a sense of warmth and pay tribute to her lasting impact on her community and the world. VERDICT Through masterful storytelling and graceful illustrations, this impactful title embodies Maria Povika Martinez's famous words: "The Great Spirit gave me [hands] that workbut not for myself, for all Tewa people." Natalie Romano, Denver P.L.
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Born around 1887, Maria Martinez became one of the greatest Native artists of all time.This story of a young girl from San Ildefonso Pueblo, near Santa Fe, New Mexico, celebrates the strong sense of culture and identity the Tewa people have maintained through the centuries. Intrigued by her people’s traditions, young Maria would rather fashion clay pots than play with straw dolls, but every time she makes one, it breaks apart while drying in the sun. Seeing her niece’s dedication, her aunt teaches Maria how to mix the clay with volcanic ash and water before coiling it between her hands to bake in an open fire. What evolves from these lessons is a young child’s sense of pride in her cultural history as well as the rediscovery of a technique long forgotten by her people. From New York to San Francisco, Maria becomes famous for her signature pottery style, making her name synonymous with excellence and value in the pottery world. Aphelandra, who has Oneida heritage, paints with the hues of the Rio Grande’s turquoise waters, orange pottery fires, pink sandstone sunsets, and the obsidian black clay of Maria’s pots; the result is earthy and elemental, containing the spirit of the New Mexican landscape. The characters are depicted in their traditional Tewa clothing and hairstyles, encompassing multiple generations of the artists’ family in a way that strikes upon the legacy she both received and left behind.A deserved celebration of a famous Tewa potter who elevated her craft to fine art. (biographical note, historical note, authors’ note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews (2/1/21)
School Library Journal Starred Review (4/1/21)
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: P-2

The most renowned Native American Indian potter of her time, Maria Povika Martinez learned pottery as a child under the guiding hands of her ko-oo, her aunt. She grew up to discover a new firing technique that turned her pots black and shiny, and made them--and Maria--famous. This inspiring story of family and creativity illuminates how Maria's belief in sharing her love of clay brought success and joy from her New Mexico Pueblo to people all across the country.

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