Maria Martinez chose to be part of a tradition that has been at the core of Pueblo life for over a thousand years. Pueblo communities of the American Southwest created regional pottery styles over time as individual potters integrated traditions from the past with their own innovations.
The continuity of styles was punctuated by changes resulting from experiments in decorative techniques and pottery-building methods. Yet few changes were as significant as those introduced with the arrival of the railroad and the necessities of the cash economy that accompanied it.
Born in the late 1880s, just at the height of these changes, Maria Martinez was able to draw on traditions of the past with an understanding of the demands of the present.