Posts Tagged ‘Casas Grandes’

One Man: One Artist Making a Difference

July 29, 2017 in Art,Art Gallery,Hunter-Wolff Gallery,Pottery | Comments (0)

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BQ001PlateCan one artist change the world? Those living in the village of Mata Ortiz may very well tell you that is what happened to their world. It all started when an enterprising Mexican named Juan Quezada Celado found broken shards of pottery near his village. Today, this once economically struggling rural Mexican village is a thriving community of creativity because of one man—Juan Quezada Celado.

Like most of the village, he grew up very poor, with little education, but that did not stop what was about to unfold for Quezada and his village. It all began when he found pre-Hispanic pots and pot shards from the Mimbres and Casas Grandes cultures in caves and other places while collecting firewood. He collected these bits of pottery found close to the archeological site of Casas Grandes (Paquimé) in the Mexican state of Chihuahua to examine and study, impressed by their artistic detail and quality.

Since the age of 7, Quezada showed artistic promise and was captivated by how the pots were made with no help from ceramicists or specialists in these cultures. Quezada’s natural ability and curiosity inspired him to explore and recreate this ancient pottery on his own. Later Quezada shared the techniques he developed, with his first student being his sister Lydia Quezada, followed by other family and friends in Mata Ortiz. Under his wing, a number of his brothers and sisters also became master potters until some 300 residents of this small village became part of the Mata Ortiz movement. Soon this impoverished village transformed with artisans earning a living from making ceramics, and nearly two-thirds of the population having employment directly or indirectly related to the craft. The success of the pottery, which is sold for its aesthetic rather than its utilitarian value, has brought the town of Mata Ortiz out of poverty.

Not only is Quezada given credit for beginning the Mata Ortiz pottery movement, but for updating the look and style. The pottery’s appeal became more popular and collectible and through trials and tribulations penetrated the U.S. markets.  By the 1990′s, the Mata Ortiz pottery was exhibited across the United States in museums and other cultural institutions and sold in fine galleries.

Mata Ortiz pottery is a highly sought-after collectible pottery not only because of its history but because of its outstanding beauty. The unique style of Mata Ortiz pottery has been quietly gaining a strong following within the collector and fine art worlds. This pottery movement can best be described as modern interpretations of 12th century indigenous pottery. Mata Ortiz pottery is painstakingly handcrafted. No pottery wheels or modern kilns are used. All materials including the clay and color pigments are collected locally, created by the artists themselves, and complicated designs are painted using brushes made from human hair.

Mata Ortiz pottery continues to grow in popularity especially in the southwest United States and some other parts of the country. Demand for bigger and more elaborate pieces have driven prices upward, selling for thousands of dollars although fine small and medium-sized vessels can be found for a few $100 up to thousands of dollars. The finest pieces are those made with white clay and those made by Quezada run considerably more.

Can one artist change the world?  I would say Yes!

More examples of this fine pottery can be viewed here.


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