Mata Ortiz Pottery: A Forty-Year Phenomenon
Contemporary Mexican pottery created in a remote Chihuahua village
Opening Reception & Book Signing by Walter Parks and Shelly Dale: Saturday, June 9th, 6-9 pm
Click to read the LA Times article "All from the clay of Mata Ortiz," by Suzanne Muchnic
Mata Ortiz pottery making, single-handedly revived by Juan Quezada, began with his attempt to duplicate ancient Mimbres and Casas Grandes pottery styles of the 13th and 14th centuries. Shards from this era, found by Juan in nearby fields, inspired his quest for replicating the original processes. In 1976, an American anthropologist, Spencer MacCallum, "discovered" Juan and promoted his pots. Quezada shared his good fortune by generously teaching family members and friends to make pottery to sell. The new potters taught others, and they in turn taught still more people, bringing about a nearly miraculous metamorphosis of an entire neighborhood. Today, pottery making is the main occupation of Mata Ortiz. It is practiced by over 400 community members and has become highly collectable throughout the world.
Juan's story will be told through a series of pots (on loan from the Museum of Man) exemplifying his early trial-and-error attempts. Three more decades of Juan's creative evolution and technical mastery will also be shown along with works by thirty other notable Mata Ortiz potters. A wide variety of forms and techniques will be exhibited: ollas and effigies, executed in a various clay bodies (red, buff, white, cream, black), and embellished with slip painting, carving, marbling, sgraffito, or graphite application.