Maria (1887-1980) and Santana (1909-2002) Martinez
Black-on-black storage jar, c.1943-1956
Gift of Margaret Cranford,
Bruce Museum Collection 23116
Photo by Paul Mutino

Seated male figure
Ceramic, 6.5 in. x 3 in. x 4 in.,
Bruce Museum Collection 73.03.02
Photo by Paul Mutino

Coiled and Decorated: Native American Pottery from the Bruce Museum Collection

November 22, 2014 - March 29, 2015

Generously underwritten by The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund and Gabelli Funds

Over the years, the Bruce Museum has acquired a noteworthy collection of Native American pottery. This collection encompasses pottery shards from functional vessels made in the Northeast to the large, almost sculptural pieces from Native Americans of the Southwest. This exhibition focuses on the pottery from the American Southwest. By exploring the process of creating pottery, visitors to the exhibition will learn about the mineralogical composition of pottery, technique, design, and history and come to appreciate the artistic beauty of these pieces.

A highlight of this show will be the stunning black-on-black pottery created by the famed Maria Martinez, her husband Julian, and other Martinez family members from the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico. The Martinez family’s careful work demonstrates how creating pottery has been a sacred process throughout time in Southwest Native American culture. Beginning with the gathering of clay from the earth, to forming the pot with the coil-and-scrape method, to removing the pot from the fire, the materials and techniques used by Pueblo potters have remained constant. The pieces from the Bruce’s collection will be supplemented with examples of pre-contact and contemporary Southwest pottery from other museums.

Most of the Martinez family pottery in the Museum’s collection, in addition to other early 20th-century vessels from the Southwest pueblos, came from Margaret Cranford, who generously donated a variety of Native American pieces to the Bruce. Margaret’s life and donations will be examined under the lens of the expansion of tourism to the Southwest in the early 20th century and its impact on Pueblo culture.

Click here for public programs that complement the exhibition.

Click here for the press release.

Ceramic Bowl with painted butterfly design  Bruce Museum Collection 00326b Photo by Paul Mutino        

Bowl with painted butterfly design
Ceramic, 3 in. x 9 in.
Bruce Museum Collection 00326b
Photo by Paul Mutino



Zuni feasting pot with “heartline” deer motif
Ceramic, 11.5” x 14” 
Gift of Mrs. Robert Horton 
Bruce Museum Collection, 80.28
Photo by Paul Mutino