Maurice and Ida May “Pat” Eby: Accomplished New Mexico Photographers

black and white portrait of Native American potter, Maria Martinez

Maria Montoya Martinez, undated, Maurice and Pat Eby photographs, 00561063

In the 1980s, thousands of photographs taken by award winning photographers Maurice and Pat Eby were donated to NMSU Library Archives and Special Collections (ASC). The Eby’s photographs have been featured in several magazines, often running on the cover of New Mexico Magazine, produced as postcards, and exhibited internationally. Maurice also photographed New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (NMSU) students for the Swastika, the school’s yearbook, in the 1950s and 1960s. Among their most notable work, are the photographs taken of renowned San Ildefonso Pueblo potters Maria Martinez and her son Popovi Da.

Maurice and Ida May, née Sentney, who preferred to go by the name Pat, were both born and raised in Hutchinson, Kansas. Maurice was born in 1911 and Pat in 1915. The couple first wed in 1934 and again in 1937 after their parents had their first union annulled. Pat gave birth to their only child, Maurcena, in 1938. Maurice managed the Fox Theatre in Hutchinson before opening a photography studio specializing in portraiture and commercial work. Both Pat and Maurice worked behind the camera, with Maurice handling the technical aspects and Pat the artistic.

black and white photograph of a woman, Rita Carbajal, seated on a couch wearing a fiesta dress

Rita Carbajal in a fiesta dress made by Pat Eby, undated, Maurice and Pat Eby photographs, 00561045

As a child, Maurice suffered a bout of tuberculosis that affected his health for the rest of his life, and in 1947 the Ebys moved to New Mexico hoping for relief in the better climate. Settling in Las Vegas, the Ebys opened another photography studio. Five years later, the family moved south to Las Cruces. Maurice took a position at NMSU as a photographer for the Physical Sciences Laboratory and the couple operated a studio out of their home.

A creative and crafty person, Pat took up designing and sewing fiesta dresses, also known as squaw dresses—indigenous American fashion inspired dresses usually made up of a blouse and gathered skirt accented with rickrack, ribbon, or embroidery; making kachina-style ceremonial dolls; and designing New Mexico inspired floral arrangements—all often featured in the couple’s photographs.

After a long illness, Maurice passed away in 1967 at the age of 55. Pat moved to Albuquerque, where she did restoration work for museums and galleries for many years. At the age of 88, Pat passed away in 2004. The couple’s love for the Southwest led to an extensive collection of pottery, jewelry, and artifacts. Many pieces were donated to museums in New Mexico after Pat’s passing.

The photographs given to NMSU are a great representation of Southwest art, culture, and environment. There are images in the collection of chiles drying in the sun, rocket launches at White Sands Proving Grounds, indigenous American dress, still lifes, studio portraits, and much more. You can view many of the images in our online photo database and view the finding aid for the collection in New Mexico Archives Online.

 

red chiles drying on racks, Organ Mountains in

Drying chiles, undated, Maurice and Pat Eby photographs 00560012

black and white photograph of four men packing chiles into baskets

Men packing chiles, undated, Maurice and Pat Eby photographs, 00560026

color photograph of a Native American potter, Popovi Da, with a display of four pieces of pottery

Popovi Da, undated, Maurice and Pat Eby photographs, 00561077

color photograph of three Kachina style dolls

Ceremonial dolls made by Pat and Maurice Eby in the style of Zuni and Hopi Kachina dolls, undated, Maurice and Pat Eby photographs, 00560767

color photograph of a rocket launching

Launch of a Pogo-hi rocket, 1950s, Maurice and Pat Eby photographs, 00560232


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