Photography Credit:

Sofia Pino Medina
Birth Date:
Death Date: 2010

Artist Gallery
Sofia Pino Medina (Indian Name Dzit'idyuwi) was born in 1932. She was trained at the Zia Pueblo in pottery by her grandmother-in-law, Trinidad Medina, and her work demonstrates the same careful finish and decoration as Trinidad's work. The Medina family is the most active making in pottery at the Zia Pueblo today, and many of the family members are very active in production. The decoration on Sofia's work is fired, and she does not use acrylic paints to decorate pottery. Her pots have a tan background slip, which she stone-polishes until it has a refined, soft sheen. The decoration is usually done in her favorite palette, which includes a soft rose-red and a dark orange (both of which are stone-polished) and a dense brownish black. She uses all natural materials in her pottery, including all of the pigments for painting. She is known for her Olla jars, which are typically used for storage for items such as food or water. Many Zia potters chose to remain anonymous, due to the pottery being focused on function rather than aesthetics or design. However, as time went on, more and more potters began to sign their works and gain recognition for their labors. Zia's pottery is made from brick red clay, tempered with crushed basaltic rock and hard-fired. The products are very durable, as evidenced by the large number of older surviving pots. The pottery is similar in style and design to Acoma pottery, except that Zia pots have thicker walls and are much heavier overall. Zia is located in a moderate and gentle terrain, located by the Jemez River, which flows by the pueblo itself. Pottery in Zia has always been a crucial means for spiritual expression, and pottery has been a practical commodity impacting virtually all parts of life. Every step of pottery-making was (and still is) performed with thanksgiving and reverence for the spirits of nature. Like other Native American cultures, the practice of pottery-making was passed on through generations; each generation picking up individuality in the process. Sofia's grandmother-in-law, Trinidad Medina, was one of the most well-known Zia potters, and was even known to have created some of the largest storage jars ever produced. She often complied with Zia ornamental tradition of using 'sky band' and bird designs on her pots. These animal figures were often heavily stylized, and even utilized by Sofia in her work. Bird motifs are usually shown in association with floral patterns and often with rainbow arcs. In addition, Zia potters developed other bold bird-figure ideas that are specific to their own village. They are known as Zia birds, and are typically depicted with black heads, an earlike crest of feathers, and hair-like fringes at the back of the head. Sofia married Rafael Medina in 1954, and they often worked on pottery together. Sofia encouraged him to paint in 1954; he worked both on paper and pottery, where he used watercolors and acrylic paints. He often decorated the pottery that Sofia made, and he received many awards for his work. Many of Sofia's works featured a traditional coil method, painted with natural materials and fired in an outdoor kiln. She decorated many of her jars with traditional Zia symbols of capped feathers, Zia birds, and double rainbows.