glyph 5: art craft pottery ceramics . Juan Quezada, Mata Ortiz . Northern Mexico, Casa Grande ... Spencer MacCallum, anthropologist ... "community animation" (Carlos Nagel)


Mata Ortiz — The Pottery of Mata-Ortiz, Mexico

Juan Quezada, Students, Friends, and Spencer MacCallum

The story of Juan Quezada and the village of Mata-Ortiz is one of the great contemporary examples of the power of artistic vision, skill, and perseverance to transform a culture. -leif

In the Mexican state of Chihuahua, Macarena Hernández meets Juan Quezada, a man who 40 years ago found ancient ceramic pots painted by the Paquime Indians. Quezada taught himself to make copies of the pots, and his pots eventually found their way to an anthropologist and art collector [Spencer MacCallum]. Quezada became famous for his pottery, as are others in his village who he taught to be masters of the craft. Now the once dying town is prosperous.

The above PBS page contains links to a video and to an interview with Spencer MacCallum.

A commentary and calendar, begun by Spencer and Emalie MacCallum, now edited and maintained by Ron and Sue Bridgemon covering exhibits and events relating to the pottery of the Mata-Ortiz region of Mexico and the work of Juan Quezada, his students and his associates.

From the November 1, 2002 issue of the calendar:

More reader-response on the experimentation with commercial kilns in Mata Ortiz can be found at the end of this update. Most interesting, for the first time we have a defense of such kilns. David Bradley argues that insistence on traditional firing ties the hands of potters as artists; commercial kilns will free them to make altogether new kinds of ceramic pieces that they could never do in an outdoors dung firing. This is true, but from the response we're receiving, buyers of traditional Mata Ortiz pottery value not only the end product, but also the process, which is an art in itself. Like the sonnet in poetry, which is also strictly limited in form, traditional Mata Ortiz pottery strikingly shows how creative one can be within given limitations. It celebrates the triumph of the human spirit over the limitations that are inescapably part of our life. One person remarked that what people are, in fact, buying is "as much art as you can get out of a dung fire."
entered before July 9, 2006; edited/updated October 1, 2018

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