oaxaca pottery

Oaxaca Pottery Exhibit opens at Franz Mayer Museum

The art of Oaxaca pottery will be on exhibit at the Franz Mayer Museum, through an exhibition consisting of 150 pieces made by 75 families from more than 35 villages of Oaxaca.

It exhibit is called “Barro y fuego. El arte de la alfarería en Oaxaca” (Mud and fire. The art of pottery in Oaxaca) and aims to broaden the vision of the craft in pottery, providing elements of pottery from its social, ecological and functional role.

“For a long time the pottery trade has been perceived as something minor even of little importance, but it is not so. The pottery is not only a very beautiful thing, it is of crucial importance, it is something that is in the DNA of the Mexicans, in the background of the history of this country,” said Diego Mier y Terán, founder and executive director.

The show, he said, is the result of long-term work that first led to the book “Barro y fuego” (2011), written by the American Eric Mindling, who for a long time lived in Oaxaca, interacting with the pottery communities of the state.

“We are interested in Mexicans getting to know these works of art and learn from our tradition, which, we believe, is of wisdom. In addition to the beauty of the pieces, it highlights the importance they have as tools for life “.

Burnished, enameled, engobes and striped, are some of the techniques used in each work that participates in the environmental balance, not only in its elaboration, but also in its use and disposal.

“Oaxaca is often spoken of as a poor and conflictive place, but if we move our eyes to other places a little, we will realize that it is a place of enormous types of wealth,” he said.

In the Oaxaca pottery, he said, there is great wisdom and intelligence, so it is an absolutely sustainable job.

“It is not known that in the 4 thousand years of existence of pottery in Mexico or the 20 thousand years of pottery and ceramics in the world, life on Earth has been in danger. Instead, we carry between 50 and 80 years of plastic tradition and we are in a mess. That is why the pottery trade is synchronized and in balance with the environment,” added Diego Mier y Terán.

The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the civil association “Innovando la Tradición”. It was curated by Eric Mindling and is divided into three sections: Kitchen, Town and Planet.

Kitchen is integrated by utensils that show the union of materials, function and form in which the knowledge stands out for the design of comales, casseroles, jars, pitchers, mezcaleros and other objects.

“It is an invitation to celebrate what we are, to understand each other in a different way and broaden the discussion about what we have to learn from the indigenous peoples, from those peoples who give life to the land,” he said.

Demetria Cruz Peralta, who is an artisan from Río Blanco Tonaltepec, said that the pottery has been able to sustain teachers, graduates, engineers and many who now have a career, and who used to make pottery.

“Pottery is my life, my world and my reason for being. I owe it to my mother, to my family, to my father who from a very young age taught me to classify the clay, to process it, to do it and to have that love and passion that life gives us,” added artisan Juan Ruiz Zárate of Santa María Atzolpa.

The work that is exhibited does not only correspond to the people of Oaxaca, some areas of Guerrero and Puebla also participate.

Before arriving in Mexico, the Oaxaca pottery exhibit was successfully presented in Belgium, Finland and Berlin. The exhibit will remain at the Franz Mayer Museum until June 17.

About the author

This article was written by Ian Hayden Parker, Oaxaca Life staff writer, the leading source for English news in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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