The Pedro Martinez Family
San Bartolo Coyotepec
Black clay (barro negro)
Antonio and Glafira Pedro Martinez made black clay pieces, which is a style of pottery closely associated with the village of San Bartolo Coyotepec and one of the most popular styles in Mexico. They passed down the craft to their children and grandchildren who have each created their own style.
The black color of barro negro comes from the clay, and the ceramics are not colored. If the piece is to be polished so that it turns out shiny black when finished, it is polished when the piece is almost dry. The surface of the piece is lightly moistened and then rubbed with a curved quartz stone. This compacts the surface of the clay and creates the metallic sheen and dark color during firing.
Their son Carlomagno Pedro Martinez (born 1965) has received international recognition for his work and bridges the gap between folk art and fine art. Their daughter Magdalena Pedro Martinez is also widely recognized for her work. She makes large sculptures of women in traditional Oaxacan costumes. Magdalena is also a medical doctor, but devotes more of her time to artmaking. In 2003 Julia Zagar arranged for both Magdalena and Carlomagno Pedro Martinez to come to Philadelphia and work as artists in residence at the Clay Studio. They gave many pieces to Isaiah that are now incorporated in the murals.
Magdalena created the feet in courtyard wall, the torso with braids in the sculpture garden, and the black 4-armed Isaiah in the back gallery. She asked Isaiah to glaze the yellow hat, cape, and gloves. The sculpture was based on the photos of Isaiah from the Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens book (1999).
Another daughter, Adelina Pedro Martinez, also has work throughout PMG. She specializes in angels and mermaids. She created many of the small black clay pieces embedded in blobs throughout the basement.