Lucy Martin Lewis was born between 1890-1900 at the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico and passed away on March 12, 1992. Lucy is one of the great matriarch potters of the past century, well known for her decorative black-on-white pottery made using traditional techniques.
Lucy spent most of her life atop the mesa and received no formal education or art classes. She learned pottery as a young child from her great-aunt and other Acoma Pueblo women. Lucy was instrumental in reviving eleventh-century, Mimbres-style pottery, characterized by black lines on white slip. Her designs are influenced by the landscape and her Native American culture. Keeping with tradition, the act of making pottery is sacred and Lucy honored that tradition by thanking the earth for the clay, only taking what was needed and using her hands and traditional tools in the process. The creation of a single pot could take as long as two to three weeks.
Lucy’s pottery first became known outside the pueblo in 1950, when she received a blue ribbon at the Annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial in Gallup, New Mexico. During the 1980s and 1990s Lewis received awards from the American Crafts Council, the College Art Association, the state of New Mexico, and the Honolulu Academy of Fine Arts.
Lucy married and had nine children. Some of her children and grandchildren learned to make pottery from her. Lucy’s pottery is featured in numerous books, videos, and museum collections worldwide. “Lucy M. Lewis” by Susan Peterson is the most authoritative work on her pottery. In 1983, Lucy Lewis was given the New Mexico Governor’s Award for outstanding personal contribution to the art of the state. In 1977, she was invited to the White House where her work is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.