1971-01 San Ildefonso Black-on-Black Jar with Feather Design

August 1971. Radiating feather motif painted by her husband Santiago (Sandy), who died suddenly one month later. Blue Corn (Crucita Gonzales Calabaza) was 48 years old when she made this pot. She died on May 3, 1999.

Blue Corn made less and less black ware and more polychrome as her career evolved. At the time the pot was purchased, Blue Corn showed me test examples of a new tan/polychrome style of pottery she was developing. This newer style became characteristic of her work. See Vigil (1989), also Trimble (1987:41-42) and Trimble (2007:48-49).

For a pot similar to 1971-01, see Dittert, (1980: 68, fig. 81). For a feature article on Blue Corn, see Peterson (1997:100-107). For other articles on Blue Corn, see Tharp (1974: 33-35) and Manley (1975:46).

After her death, she is well remembered and described by Adobe Gallery thus:

Crucita Gonzales Calabaza (1921-1999) Blue Corn was born in San Ildefonso Pueblo around 1921 and was encouraged by her grandmother, at an early age, to “forget school and become a potter.” She did attend school at the pueblo and later at the Santa Fe Indian School, however. At age 20, she married Santiago Calabaza, a Kewa Pueblo – formerly known as Santo Domingo – silversmith. During the 1940s, she worked at Los Alamos as a housecleaner for J. Robert Oppenheimer. Shortly after World War II, she took up pottery making and found her calling.

She became one of the greatest ceramists of all time. She made pottery for over 60 years. Her house was located across the plaza from that of Maria Martinez but there was no competition between the two artisans. She was one of the most honored of 20th-century potters. She received the 1981 New Mexico Governor’s Award (New Mexico’s highest artistic award!) and she was acclaimed for her artistic accomplishments in the Wall Street Journal and in AMEPNKA, a Soviet Union journal. She won awards at numerous State Fairs, Santa Fe Indian Market, and other exhibitions.

Blue Corn lived another 20 years after Maria Martinez passed away and by doing so became the most sought potter at San Ildefonso Pueblo.  Her house was easily accessible and she always welcomed visitors, where she would visit and sell her pottery and those made by her children.