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Acoma Pottery

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Acoma Pottery

Situated approximately 60 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico is the Acoma Pueblo. Federally recognized as its own tribal entity, the Acoma Pueblo is comprised of three villages. The villages are Sky City, or “Old Acoma”, Acomita, and McCartys. Built atop a sheer-walled, 350-foot sandstone bluff, Sky City is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited village found in North America. The Acoma Pueblo, or as they are called “The People of the White Rock”, is known worldwide for its abundance of rich culture and intriguing artworks, especially its pottery.

Dating back to the 18th Century, Acoma potters have created hand coiled, thin walled, large “ollas”, or pots, slipped in white, tempered with crushed sherds of broken pottery pieces, or painted with black or red patterns or designs. When the railroad was built through this area in the 1880’s with a station in nearby Laguna, it introduced a new trader and tourist market for the people of Acoma. To accommodate tourists, the Acoma potters began to produce smaller pots to slip into their suitcases. For the traders, new unique pieces were created to entice them.

Although the “olla” represents the highest achievement for Acoma potters, there was a time when an assortment of pottery shapes began to appear to attract tourists. In the 1950’s, artists Lucy Martin Lewis and Marie Zieu Chino came into prominence with a wide range of prehistoric design motifs used to create new fashion trends in Acoma pottery. Prior to their notoriety, Marty Histia was one of the most well-known potters known for the creation of “the turtle” shape.

Currently, Lucy Martin Lewis is credited as being the most famous Acoma potter. Aside from San Ildelfonso potter Maria Martinez, she is quite possibly the most well-known artist of all Southwestern potters to date. Lewis began her career in Acoma pottery sometime during the 1920’s and had developed a fan base by the 1940’s. Marie Zieu Chino was Lewis’ friend and competitor. Occasionally, they helped each other with their unique designs. Chino in her own right was a well-known potter and received a prize for her pottery work at the very first Southwest Indian Fair in the year 1922. Her intriguing pots were distinctive with their unique detailed geometric designs combinations of abstract symbols and various life forms.

Both Lucy Martin and Marie Chino began to sign their pottery pieces somewhere around 1950. This brought about their recognition in the late 1950’s. Between 1930 and 1965, most Acoma pottery pieces produced during this time period were only signed “Acoma, NM” because artists felt it was egotistical to sign one’s name on a pot. They also both had children that carried on the tradition of producing Acoma pottery. Lucy Lewis’ son Ivan gained a reputation for his work at Cochiti, and her other six children became well-known Acoma potters: Anne Lewis Hansen, Emma Lewis Mitchell, Carmel Lewis, Dolores Lewis Garcia, Mary Lewis Garcia, and Drew Lewis. Out of Marie Chino’s five “potter” children, only three of them achieved their mother’s notoriety with their unusual designs: Grace Chino, Carrie Chino Charlie, and Rose Chino Garcia. As of recent, none of Lewis’ or Chino’s grandchildren have achieved celebrity status as Acoma potters.

Acoma Potters

Mary Antonio Garcia

Accomplished Acoma Pueblo potter Mary (Antonio) Garcia processes her own clay, hand coils her pottery, collects or gathers indigenous plants, rocks, and rain water to create her paints, and fires her own painted pottery in shallow pits outside in order to fuse the clay. Her techniques and attention to detail produce beautiful pieces of modern Acoma pottery.

In 1962, Mary Antonio Garcia was born into the Roadrunner Clan of the Acoma Pueblo located in New Mexico. She began her career in Native American Acoma pottery in 1979. Her parents were the highly respected Acoma artists, David Antonio and Hilda Antonio. Mary signs all of her work with the hallmark “Antonio”. Other well-known Acoma potters within Mary Antonio Garcia’s family include her grandmother Eva Histia, great aunts Elizabeth Wocanda and Lucy Martin Lewis, and her aunt Rose Torivio. In the past, Native People's Magazine, The Journal of American Indian Education, and The Daily Pennsylvania have written articles regarding Maria Antonio Garcia. In Pennsylvania, her pottery creations were included in the "A Celebration of the American Southwest" exhibit at the University Museum.

Dylene Victorino

Located on slightly more than 260,000 acres in its original established site is 1 of 19 pueblos in New Mexico known as Acoma. Born in 1979, Dylene Victorino and her ancestors have lived in this particular pueblo for over 1,000 years! The Victorino Family is a group of accomplished and recognized Acoma pottery artists that have been around for decades. Dating back to the 2000’s, Dylene Victorino’s mother taught her the traditional art of producing pottery. Although she is a young artist, her work is admired by many, and she is making a name for herself in the world of Native American Acoma pottery.

Beverly Victorino Garcia

Beverly Garcia was born on January 14, 1955 to Florence and Fred Waconda on the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. Her career in Acoma pottery began in 1962. This means she has been creating gorgeous, Native American, Acoma hand coiled pottery for more than 50 years! Beverly Garcia produces classic recognizable shapes, decorates with fine lines, and chooses traditional colors of white and black to decorate her pottery. She signs her pottery with the hallmark “B.D. Garcia”. She is also related other recognized and talented Acoma potters. Beverly Garcia is the granddaughter of John and Lupe Concho, sister of Loretta Joe, and Dylene Victorino’s mother.

Chino Family

Currently, Lucy Martin Lewis is credited as being the most famous Acoma potter. Aside from San Ildelfonso potter Maria Martinez, she is quite possibly the most well-known artist of all Southwestern potters to date. Lewis began her career in Acoma pottery sometime during the 1920’s and had developed a fan base by the 1940’s. Marie Zieu Chino was Lewis’ friend and competitor. Occasionally, they helped each other with their unique designs. Chino in her own right was a well-known potter and received a prize for her pottery work at the very first Southwest Indian Fair in the year 1922. Her intriguing pots were distinctive with their unique detailed geometric designs combinations of abstract symbols and various life forms.

Both Lucy Martin and Marie Chino began to sign their pottery pieces somewhere around 1950. This brought about their recognition in the late 1950’s. Between 1930 and 1965, most Acoma pottery pieces produced during this time period were only signed “Acoma, NM” because artists felt it was egotistical to sign one’s name on a pot. They also both had children that carried on the tradition of producing Acoma pottery. Lucy Lewis’ son Ivan gained a reputation for his work at Cochiti, and her other six children became well-known Acoma potters: Anne Lewis Hansen, Emma Lewis Mitchell, Carmel Lewis, Dolores Lewis Garcia, Mary Lewis Garcia, and Drew Lewis. Out of Marie Chino’s five “potter” children, only three of them achieved their mother’s notoriety with their unusual designs: Grace Chino, Carrie Chino Charlie, and Rose Chino Garcia. As of recently, none of Lewis’ or Chino’s grandchildren have achieved celebrity status as Acoma potters.