The sculptor Eugenie Shonnard was born in 1886 in Yonkers, New York. At the age of 27 she had gone completely deaf. Because of this disability her senses of sight and touch became more pronounced, which enabled her to pursue a successful career as a sculptor. Her exhibitions took place at the Museum of Modern Art and the 1933 World’s Fair in New York City. Shonnard came to Santa Fe in 1927 at the invitation of Edgar Lee Hewett, the founder of the Museum of New Mexico. Hewett felt that her previous work showed she was ideally suited to sculpt Native Americans. Shonnard felt an immediate connection to the land and its people. She befriended many Native Americans, including Maria Martinez. She was present at the birth of Maria’s son, Popovi Da.
Black on Black Pottery
New Mexico’s world-renowned potter Maria Martinez was born in 1887 at San Ildefonso Pueblo. She was instrumental in reviving the ancient technique of black-on-black pottery from the Neolithic Era in the Southwest. Along with her husband, Julian Martinez, and other family members, this ancient craft has become synonymous with the Pueblo people of northern New Mexico. Through her work Maria became internationally known and continued to work on her pottery into her 90s. She died in 1980 at the age of 93.
Popovi Da (Red Fox), the son Maria and Julian Martinez, was born at San Ildefonso Pueblo in 1923. As a child he learned to make pottery from his parents and became a famous artist in his own right. A WWII veteran, Da assisted his mother with her clay pottery, incorporating his geometric designs. He became a governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo and chairman of the All-Indian Pueblo Council. His artwork can be found in collections around the country, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He died in 1971.