Artist:

Magdalena Pedro Martínez

Country:

Oaxaca, Mexico

Medium of Work:

Black pottery sculptures of women dressed in regional costume

About:

Working with the distinctive black clay indigenous to San Bartolo Coyotepec, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, Magdalena Pedro Martínez sculpts figures of women dressed in regional costumes. The black clay comes from the mines outside of her town, located in the central valley just south of Oaxaca City.

The ceramic artists of San Bartolo Coyotepec are world famous for their barro negro or “black pottery.” What gives Martínez’s sculptures a creative edge is the carefully engraved detail the artist bestows on each piece. As a practicing physician, the human form is one that she knows well. Such features as faces, hands and feet are particularly life-like in her work. Special attention is also paid to regional costumes.She first begins with a large mass of clay to shape the body. Starting with the face, each component of the figure is formed with handmade tools to create minute details, including such disparate aspects as hair braids, jewelry and even patterned lace. Once the figures are dry, Magdalena burnishes them to achieve a special contrast that helps set her work apart from the other clay figures made in the area. Finally, each figure is placed in a hole dug into the ground, covered with wood, and baked for eight hours, intensifying their black coloration.  Magdalena Pedro Martínez grew up in a family of artists. She credits them with giving her the freedom to experiment with the black clay that was traditionally used by the people of her village to make utilitarian cookware for everyday use. When she first began creating her distinctive clay figures, she turned to her grandmother for stories about the traditional native dress of her youth. Now that her grandmother is gone, Martínez manifests these stories in clay

 

Artist:

Lila Silveira

Country:

Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico

Medium of Work:

Pottery 

About:

 Lila Silveira, is a finely skilled representatives of the second generation of potters from Mata Ortiz, Mexico. Lila was selected as one of the top 25 potters in Mata Ortiz when artists were chosen to represent Mata Ortiz pottery through a traveling exhibition that began in Limoge, France. This accomplishment is understandable when you realize that Lila Silveira’s mother is Socorro Sandoval, was one of the most respected potters in town who was especially well known for her skill at hand building magnificent thin walled pots. Lila was surrounded with a love of ceramics since she can remember. But with a twist of fate, Lila was chosen to study under Juan Quezada, one of the original Master Potters who is credited with the pottery revival movement in Mata Ortiz. Lila was fortunate to study under Juan for two years, as Juan never really taught people outside of his immediate family circle. Juan Quezada would come to Lila’s house on a daily basis and teach her all the aspects of his own pottery techniques and designs. Juan taught her how he digs and refines his clay, how he forms his pottery by hand using coils of the clay that he himself crafted, how he sands the pot to create the thin walls and light weight pottery that denotes quality, how he creates his paints from local pigments and minerals that can be found in the surrounding countryside, how to craft their paintbrushes out of long strands of human hair, how he paints his favorite designs on the pottery, how he protects the pot with oil and then burnishes the pots to create a beautiful natural shine, and how he fires the pot on the ground in the traditional manner. Lila Silveira is widely recognized as Juan Quezada’s favorite student, and she is proud to carry on the traditions that Juan taught her, always adhering to the highest standards of quality. She admits with notable excitement that to this day Juan Quezada shares his special clays and paints with her, challenges her when he thinks she is pricing her work too far below value, and continues to evaluate her work and provide helpful advice on new designs. Lila Silveira is determined to remain a ceramic artist of high quality and integrity, and is always happy to share her knowledge with those who are interested in learning. Lila has won numerous awards throughout the years at the Concurso, the annual pottery competition in Mata Ortiz. Lila Silveira’s work continues to amaze us, and we are proud to share her story with you. Lila truly represents the pride of craftmanship found in Mata Ortiz, Mexico.

Artist:

Miguel de la Cruz

Country:

Capula, Michoacan, Mexico

Medium of Work:

Clay sculptures 

About:

Miguel de la Cruz, son of Grand Master Alfaro Miguel de la Cruz of Capula, Michoacan, Mexico, is famous for the iconic “Catrinas.”.A Brief History of Catrinas. Catrinas, skeletal men or women, were the creation of Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913). Posada was an illustrator and printer who used the skeletal images or calacas to expose the materialism and social injustices which existed in Mexico at the turn of the 19th and into the 20th century. By utilizing the traditional "Day of the Dead" catrina figures, Posada was able to avoid prosecution and punishment for his politically incorrect social and political satire.Diego Rivera, world renown muralist in the 20th century, was one of Guadalupe Posada's protégés. Along with Jose Orozco, Rivera credits his mentor with establishing popular arts in Mexico. In the 1960's, an artistic coop led by Juan Torres of Capula in the state of Michoacan began designing and fabricating catrinas in three-dimensional forms. The Capula catrinas are  tremendously popular because of their fascinating variety and creativity.

 

We have made two trips to Capula Mexico to be introduced to Alvaro and Miguel de la Cruz. Their home is atop a hill on the right-hand side of this rutted dirt road. It is notable that such exquisite art is produced in these humble settings. Miguel’s trademark is the exquisite miniature details, he places on all of his work.  Miguel has a remarkable talent. Alvaro, like all fathers is proud of  his son and how dedicate he is to his craft. He's brilliant and creative and his Catrinas stand out amongst all the villagers retentions.   In the center of the home is a small windowless room, which sit over 25 catrinas in different states.  Catrinas await heads and hats, others faces await to be painted. Miguel is attaching earrings, and adding melons to small baskets. He forms some by hand, cutting details with small knives and wire loops. He makes others in clay molds that he fashioned himself. The de la Cruzes sell their work in Patzcuaro galleries, keeping only a sampling in their studio. Because of their fragile state they are difficult to export out of this region.The artists, father and son, are not getting rich. The prognosis isn't good either. Morelia’s urban growth has prevented the artisans from getting the raw material from free sources, and obviously, this has also affected product sales. Intermediaries represent another problem. Migration to the U.S. offers young people a better opportunity, but family relationships, the community concept and the preservation of traditions are revered. A way of life is threatened. Artisanship in Mexico is declining. Amigos Art & Pottery are committed to showcasing artists like Miguel and to support their work through direct buying from artisans, to ensure their artistic legacy continues.

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