Published on November 12, 2010 by John
The Aguilar Family is a family of Native American potters from Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico, United States, consisting of three sisters, Felipita Aguilar Garcia, Asuncion Aguilar Cate and Mrs. Ramos Aguilar.
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In the early 1900s, pottery making at Santo Domingo Pueblo had experienced a significant decline. In 1910, Julius Seligman, who worked at the Bernalillo Mercantile Company near the pueblo, noticed the decline. At his suggestion, three sisters, Felipita Aguilar Garcia, Asuncion Aguilar Cate and Mrs. Ramos Aguilar, attempted to revive the dying art. The three women worked together making pottery and their work became known as “Aguilar pottery.”
The Aguilar sisters made traditional polychrome ollas, jars and dough bowls with several different styles of decoration. The painting style for which they are best known was black paint on a white slip or black and red on a white slip, which almost totally obscured the white background. This style was unique compared to the typical geometric forms of Santo Domingo pottery where areas were usually left open of unpainted. This style has become known as “negative boldface” or reverse-painted Aguilar pottery. They also made traditional Santo Domingo types including black-on-cream and black-on-red.
The Aguilar sisters’ style of pottery ended around 1915 but is today making a comeback as the Aguilar polychrome style has been revived by one of Santo Domingo’s leading potters, Robert Tenorio.
The Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado has the finest collection of Aguilar family pottery today. The School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico also has several excellent examples of their work.