Published on January 23, 2013 by Amy
Blue Corn (c. 1920 – May 3, 1999), also known as Crucita Calabaza, was a Native American potter from San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, in the United States. She became famous for reviving San Ildefonso polychrome wares and had a very long and productive career.
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Her grandmother first introduced her to pottery making at the age of three. Maria Martinez’s sister gave her the name “Blue Corn” during the naming ceremony, which is the Native American tradition of naming a child.
Blue Corn attended school at the pueblo in her early years. She then went to Santa Fe Indian School, which was 24 miles (39 km) from home. While attending school in Santa Fe, her mother and father died, and she was sent to live with relatives in southern California. Here she worked as a maid for a short time in Beverly Hills.
At the age of 20, she married Santiago “Sandy” Calabaza, a silversmith from Santo Domingo Pueblo. Together they settled at San Ildefonso, where she bore and raised 10 children. During World War II, Blue Corn worked as a housecleaner in Los Alamos for the physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer.
After her first son, Joseph, was born, she returned to pottery making. Santiago quit his job to help her carve, paint and design her pots, and by the late 1960s she had established herself as a leader in polychrome styles. After her husband died in 1972, her son Joseph began helping her with her pots. During the 1960s and 70s, she conducted many workshops on pottery making in both the U.S. and Canada. Although Blue Corn also made redware and blackware, she is especially noted for her finely polished slips and exhaustive experimentations with clays and colors, producing cream polychrome on jars and plates. She is particularly well known for her feather and cloud designs.
Blue Corn is known for the re-introduction of polychrome fine whiteware and has received critical acclaim from several publications including the Wall Street Journal. Her pottery can be found in the Smithsonian Institution and other leading museums throughout America and Europe as well as in private collections. She won more than 60 awards including the 8th Annual New Mexico Governors Award in 1981. This is New Mexico’s greatest recognition of artistic achievement.
She died May 3, 1999 leaving ten children, 18 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.