Marie Zieu Chino was one of the Matriarchs of Acoma Pueblo. Marie and her friends Lucy M. Lewis and Jessie Garcia are recognized as the three most important Acoma potters during the 1950s. The inspiration for many designs used on their pottery were found on old pot shards that had been gathered to use to make temper in the clay mixture. Together the three friends led the revival of ancient pottery forms including the Mimbres, Tularosa and other various cultures from around the Acoma region in central New Mexico. This revival spread among other Acoma potters who also allowed the old styles to lead them to innovative designs and new variations of style and form.
Marie became particularly well known for her amazingly uniform fine-line black-on-white hand-coiled pottery. Her pots were distinctive in their complex geometric designs as well as the combination of life forms and abstract symbols. Some of her favorite designs included animals, swirls, kiva steps, parrots, rainbows, berries, leaves, rain, clouds, lightning and fine-line snowflakes.
As the head of the Chino family of potters, Marie mentored her family in the finer aspects of the ancient art of pottery making. She also worked with many students from outside her family. Her children and grandchildren are numerous and include daughters Grace Chino, Rose Marie Chino and Carrie Charlie Chino.
Marie Z. Chino's pottery can be found in the book, "14 Families in Pueblo Pottery" along with numerous other publications. In 1922, Marie won her first award at the Santa Fe Indian Market. She was only fifteen. She didn't participate in Indian Market again for years, then went on to receive numerous awards in Santa Fe for her pottery from 1970-1982. In 1998 the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts recognized Marie with a “Lifetime Achievement Award”.
Photo of Marie Z. Chino above is courtesy of Lynne Spivey.