Familia de Andres Villalba, mas o menos 2006. This is the family of Andres Villalba, photo from 2006 or so. They are great friends.
The Storm, the Protesters, and the Would-be Purge
(The purge never happened. But a more authentic history emerged.)
The following thoughts were originally published by Joseph Wilder, Editor, Journal of the Southwest, Volume 56, Number 4, Winter 2014, and were written about what he regarded as Jim Hills’s “landmark” perspectives on the history of Mata Ortiz. Wilder is responding here to what he calls “orchestrated” criticisms of the groundbreaking work.
Per Joseph Wilder:
The Journal of the Southwest (54, 1, Spring, 2012) published a special issue on the pottery-making traditions of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico. “Forgotten Tributaries of the Palanganas: Untold Stories from Mata Ortiz” was edited by Jim Hills , and included articles across a broad spectrum of Mata Ortiz life and production, including interviews with potters, photo essays, discussion of the social life of the village, analyses of art and craft practiced over decades. It was a landmark issue on a significant place and its meaning. Central to the issue was a section dedicated to “New Perspectives” on the phenomenon of Mata Ortiz, and at the heart of that section was Jim Hills’ 78-page essay, “Reconstructing a Miracle: New Perspectives on Mata Ortiz Pottery Making.” Publication of this article ignited a storm. A group of American residents of Mata Ortiz or Americans with deep personal and professional ties to the village and its craft production made their displeasure with Hills’ revisionist history and the beginnings of modern Mata Ortiz pottery-making plain. Besides email and letters to me personally, as editor of the journal, there was an orchestrated letter campaign to various officials at the University of Arizona, our academic home, including to our college dean and the president of the University. There were also, I hasten to add, positive – indeed, glowing – reviews and responses sent to me. I responded at length to a number of the protestors, who often called for us to retract the publication (after admonishing us that the publication should not have been published at all, despite normal peer review); usually the critical letters focused on the putative lack of objectivity in Hills’ piece, and this was something I took particular pains to address. I quote from one of my responses:
“Jim’s piece makes real claims – but he does not claim to have spoken the final word; instead, as his publisher, Jim’s effort opens a conversation and it is a powerful opening that is the essence of scholarship. You state a concern with “objectivity”, implying that this issue (and Jim’s essay in particular) fail on that score. Again, while you do not support this charge, you also do not specify what “objective” might mean in this case. The term, of course, is loaded, and there exist literally shelves of materials accumulated over the last 150 years of social science research contesting, analyzing, and plain worrying about that concept. A useful way to think about “objectivity” in human affairs (as opposed to observing molecules through a microscope) is to think in terms of transparency, openness, and intersubjectivity and to remember that in human sciences the “theorist” is a part of that which he theorizes: we do not stand outside of the history we seek to understand; rather we of necessity inform and belong to that history – such are our limitations, and Jim Hills never transgresses those limitations – indeed he respects them, as do I and as does Journal of the Southwest.”
The key of course is the notion of dialogue or conversation. In another correspondence I wrote:
“Jim has written a new narrative history of aspects of Mata Ortiz. He, admittedly, does not pull punches, nor should he. It counters a prevailing, dominant narrative that has held sway for several decades. No doubt this version may be challenged – and further developed – especially since it seems that Jim’s essay has broken through an insularity that is a working danger of small communities of knowledge – and this is a good thing. Ultimately it will be nice to hear the voices – directly – of the Mexicans themselves and how they might construct the narration of their recent history. All of this is the normal intellectual development of the history of time and place, and it shocks me that it seems to be unacceptable to some. It goes without saying – or should – that the way to respond to new narratives to which you might disagree is with your own carefully researched, thought out article – that is reviewed, refereed, and published in the scholarly literature. Indeed, in all of the social sciences, this is exactly the way scholarship proceeds. We are not publishing coffee table books – nor are we publishing magazines or op ed newspapers. We are the arena for academic, scholarly engagement, in all its messy glory. There is a lovely concept of Hegel’s about history – the loving struggle of opposites – the “agon” or agony that provides continually renewed, provisional “truths” of history. This is at bottom what the intellectual enterprise is about: we challenge reigning paradigms, we challenge ourselves and our complacency, we risk ourselves in the marketplace of ideas, and out of that struggle do emerge hard-won truths that imperfectly begin to describe the world we live in and create. My job as an academic publisher is to reflect that struggle and to provide the means for it to occur.”
About the Mimbres: Per Dr. Cynthia Bettison, archaeologist, professor and director of Western New Mexico Museum in Silver City, New Mexico, “There are Mimbres sites in Mexico.” “The Tarahumara are direct descendents of the Mimbres.”
Mata Ortiz designs are inspired by Casas Grandes ceramics. Also, there is influence from the Mimbres.
Estas son dos ollas contemporáneas de Mata Ortiz con influencia de Mimbres. El primer bote es de Luis Rodríguez y el segundo es de Gerardo Pedregón. (No para la venta)
Según la Dra. Cynthia Bettison, directora del Museo del Oeste de Nuevo México en Silver City, Nuevo México, “Hay sitios de Mimbres en México”. “Los tarahumaras son descendientes directos de los Mimbres”.
Los diseños de Mata Ortiz están inspirados en la cerámica de Casas Grandes. Además, hay influencia de los Mimbres.
Julian Hernandez is a professor and professional potter, specializing in traditional pre-Hispanic Casas Grandes-style pots. He lives in Nuevo Casas Grandes.
Efforts Made to Rescue the Ceramics of Paquimé
By Julián Alejandro Hernández Chávez, 2013, translated from Spanish
During the pre-Hispanic period, the Paquimé culture can be considered the most important in northern Mexico outside of the Mesoamerican area. It was located in northwestern Chihuahua and presently covers approximately eight municipalities reaching the border at the northeastern part of the state of Sonora.
This culture flourished approximately from 700 to 1500 AD. Presently, in this region, there are about two thousand archaeological sites. Most of them have not been studied. In some isolated cases, foreign academics have carried out research, as is the case of the City of Paquimé investigated by the Amerind Foundation of Arizona, U.S.A. represented by Charles C. Di Peso. Eduardo Contreras Sánchez was the INAH representative on Mexico’s behalf. They carried out extraordinary field work between 1958 and 1961 and worked on the project another 15 years by publishing a unique collection of archaeological works written by specialists in related fields. The first three volumes are devoted to general knowledge of the Paquimé culture; volumes four to eight are reference works for archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and specialists in the field.
In the mid seventies, research of Paquimé in Mexico practically came to a standstill but it continued steadily in the U.S. where various groups of archaeologists from several universities carried out studies during different periods. They slowly enriched the documentary archives about this great culture.
One aspect that was studied was the pottery; it gives us information about the people who made it, the artists’ and artisans’ magical abilities and about the people who lived in the region during that era. Paquimé ceramics are unique; they are a representation of the ancient inhabitants of Chihuahua and contribute to the knowledge of the development of its inhabitants through time and help to place this culture within a larger regional context.
Today, a new kind of artistic expression has appeared almost spontaneously in the region. It is the production of low temperature ceramics inspired by the old pieces created by the ancient culture. In a relatively short time, about thirty years, it has come to occupy a space in popular art; a space that had been the exclusive domain of the great artisan masters and artists from the traditional ceramic production centers that had been in business for two or three hundred years. The new Paquimé ceramics that are made using traditional methods similar to the ancient ones are gaining ground, especially those made in the town of Juan Mata Ortiz in the municipality of Casas Grandes which have been recognized at national and international levels. These artists and artisans have brought many benefits to the communities where these ceramics are made.
My entry to the world of Paquimé ceramics dates from 1972 when I met the archaeologist Eduardo Contreras Sánchez who had been the INAH representative during the great exploration between 1958 and 1961. At that time, he was responsible for the Paquimé project and we became good friends. I collaborated with him in different ways, from supporting his investigative efforts and dealings with the authorities for the conservation of the archaeological zone and the protection of the sites against vandalism and sacking of which they have always been victims, in some cases due to ignorance and in others due to ambition. These have slowly destroyed the historic legacy of what is the oldest known social grouping in Chihuahua as well as the most important pre-Hispanic culture in northern Mexico and North America during the XIII and XIV centuries. Knowing more about the ancient inhabitants of Chihuahua, the land where I was born, filled me with pride and a sense of belonging to that land. Something that caused a strong impression on me was the pottery at the archaeological sites that although it had been abandoned and subject to the weather for more than 700 years, had not lost the intensity of its colors. Its unique designs called my attention because they contained information that had not been deciphered and that still holds the secrets of those people in each pot and each decorated piece found among the funerary offerings.
I read the material published about Paquimé, almost all the material was in English and there was little in Spanish. I concentrated on the pottery as the cornerstone to understand their cultural development through time and to help us conserve this legacy. I had the opportunity of drawing up the archaeological map of northwestern Chihuahua where we identified almost two thousand sites in a region that is presently occupied by approximately ten municipalities. One hundred and fifty kilometers from the Sierra Madre to the municipality of Villa Ahumada and the municipality of Madera to the border with the State of New Mexico in the U.S. some 200 km to the north. According to some researchers, this region was the seat of the Paquimé or Casas Grandes culture.
The great efforts made by Contreras did not receive support from the federal or state governments, much less from the municipalities. It is a constant that culture has the last priority in our officials’ and politicians’ plans. Contreras fell gravely ill in 1986 in Casas Grandes after several seasons of working there and died that same year in Mexico City. This called the attention to the northern region of the academic community, as well as that of the governments. Much like the medieval knight, “el Mío Cid”, he won his last battle after death. Paquimé appeared on Mexico’s cultural horizon and an unprecedented amount attention of the federation was given to the archaeological zone which provided more resources, more guards and more frequent working seasons sponsored by the Federal government. In this way, the archaeological investigation horizons in the whole state of Chihuahua became greater. As a result, a unit of the National School of Anthropology and History was established in Chihuahua City and the Paquimé culture began to be included in primary school textbooks.
Archaeologists from universities in the U.S., Canada and other countries came to Casas Grandes and I became good friends with Michael Whalen, Paul Minnis from the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma, Todd Pietzel from the University of Arizona, together, in 1985, they started annual projects and every year, they have brought students of all levels, BAs, MBAs and PhDs who have published a dozen books related to Paquimé in addition to more than a hundred scientific articles published in magazines that specialize in Arid-American archaeology. In fact, they have continuously, as a group and individually, kept studying the Paquimé culture following Di Peso’s and Contreras’ works with scientific exactitude. I have accompanied them to visit about 480 sites in the region, always specifically concerned with learning more about the pottery; although my specialty is not archaeology, I have learned much in these 27 years of working with them, some of their publications have been dedicated to me for which I am grateful and continue to participate in their work; their warehouse in Mexico is part of my house.
On our part, at the end of the century, at Casas Grandes we were fighting for our dream: to build an onsite museum at Paquimé which we finally achieved after nearly 10 years of negotiations. In 1998, the Museum of Northern Cultures and the Paquimé Culture was inaugurated after innumerable attempts; it was declared by UNESCO to be Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a unique culture with its own characteristics, in addition to the earthen architecture and the other unique aspects of the desert cultures. One of its most expressive manifestations is its pottery which has become Paquimé’s marker of identity.
In 1952, in Casas Grandes, Manuel Olivas began to produce low temperature ceramics decorated with the designs from the pieces found at the archaeological sites. His grandmother taught him how to find the clay deposits, how to prepare the clay and fire his pieces the way his family did to produce clay articles. This is how the new traditional Paquimé ceramics were born; after this, the ceramics appeared spontaneously in several communities in the region and the new potters exchanged the information they had. They sold their pieces as utilitarian and decorative objects, first to locals and later to tourists.
When Eduardo Contreras died, to honor his memory, I wrote a notebook titled: “Let’s Conserve Paquimé” to call the attention of the authorities and people who lived in the region to the fact that the archaeological sites needed to be protected because they were still being sacked. With the help of my students, we printed it at the “Francisco Villa” school. It had more than 50 illustrations and since in those days, INAH charged 400 pesos for the rights to each photo, we printed it on a mimeograph and instead of photos we illustrated it with some excellent drawings made by Gustavo Rubio. The first edition was 4000 copies which we distributed in the region and wherever we could. Later, in Colorado it was printed a second time, 2000 copies in both English and Spanish, the notebook practically became a guide to visit the archaeological zone. We only needed to complete it by adding photos to the drawings in spaces left for that purpose which made the visit to Paquimé more attractive.
At that time I was contacting persons who were beginning to work with ceramics and I remember that my first contacts were Andrés Villalba, Juan Quezada, Héctor Gallegos, Armando Rodríguez and a few others with whom I first began to work with clay. At the beginning of the nineties I began a new adventure in the arts by establishing the first formal workshop for traditional Paquimé ceramics in 1992. It was located in my house. We trained many people there and received support through temporary employment programs from the state government; there were also people who wanted to know about this new activity that provided for many families. Many of these persons continued with the ceramic art using as support the knowledge we had about the ancient ceramics of Paquimé. That was what I personally focused on because Mata Ortiz was evolving with contemporary designs and some of the artisans did not know much about our mother culture so I decided to focus my efforts on rescuing the ceramics with the ancient pieces and classical designs from the era of Paquimé’s splendor.
I contacted institutions in the United States and in many parts of Mexico to reinforce academic activities related to acquiring more knowledge about the ceramics of Paquimé. In Colorado Springs, Colorado I received support to write more about the topic and I completed a large manuscript about the events that had occurred in Mata Ortiz entitled “Mata Ortiz, Town of Potters, Ceramics of Northwest Chihuahua”. Due to its large size I was unable to publish it. I continued with exchange programs with institutions in the state of Chihuahua, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma in the United States; we exchanged experiences with well-known ceramists such as Gregory Wood who is an archaeo-ceramist who specializes in Anazasi ceramics from northern New Mexico and southern Colorado; we have held workshops on the production of ancient Anazasi and Paquimé ceramics for archaeologists through institutions like the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado and also soon with the Amerind Foundation of Dragoon Arizona, to hold new discussions on the ceramics of Paquimé during the last three decades with the participation of Mexican archaeologists and anthropologists.
In 2008 I summarized my previous manuscript into “The new Paquimé Ceramics” which I printed after trying, in vain, to get support from the government or another institution. The first edition of 2000 copies sold out and in 2009, the second edition was printed and also sold out. I hope to print a third edition in English to go on a book tour in the United States. The book sparked interest because it was written by a Mexican born in Casas Grandes who is also a ceramist which was a difference when compared to foreign publications.
I made a tour of institutions in Chihuahua, Jalisco, Mexico City, Baja California and Guanajuato; I visited universities, museums, public and private institutions to present the book, organize workshops, exhibitions, giving conferences to promote Paquimé and the Casas Grandes ceramics, especially the ones produced in J. Mata Ortiz. We sent some pieces to Europe on a traveling exhibition that began in Norway and ended in Finland.
Seventeen years ago, with the support of FONART and the state government, we organized the first Ceramic contest for the region of Paquimé that is ongoing and gives recognition to local talent and helps to support them with the sale of their pieces. There are a significant number of buyers from the United States which makes the event successful from a financial perspective and is a good pretext to get together with the locals. The name of the event was changed to Ceramic Contest of Mata Ortiz. We have supported the national ceramic contests of Talquepaque and Tonala. We encourage artisans and artists to participate with excellent results. Also, we recently promoted collective exhibitions like the Ollas Pintas at the Casa Chihuahua Museum where 20 artists participated. A year ago we also organized the 2012 Ceramist Meeting in Chihuahua City with the participation of ceramists from Guadalajara, Mexico City, Tijuana; Madrid, Spain; Chihuahua, Houston Texas and Colorado U.S.A. The next meeting is scheduled for May 2014 in Casas Grandes, Chihuahua with a much greater number of national participants.
In general, the actions of this writer may be summarized as having given support, promoting and presenting information about the Paquimé culture through its ceramics. All my efforts during these 22 years have been to get to know the material, the designs, processes and everything related to the ancient ceramics. I’ve also worked with the more modern interpretations of the art and supported new ceramists and the extraordinary contributions made by J. Mata Ortiz without forgetting that the ancient ceramists’ iconography is the way of keeping that cultural heritage alive and that it’s necessary to get to know it better. We have also tried to transmit knowledge of our mother culture to young people and have contributed to the conservation of the archaeological sites and we have registered whenever possible the knowledge we’ve acquired to share it with new generations. We have also organized activities oriented towards the academic considerations of the topic with the participation of institutions of higher learning and cultural organizations. One of our pending projects is the creation of a School of Ceramics where initially, a bachelor’s degree would be offered so that ceramists could be recognized formally for their contributions to culture and art and so that they may improve their standard of living.
It’s been a lengthy story but it finally ends. “Un abrazo”
Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, November 27, 2013
This pot by Sabino Villalba depicts a god of Paquimé, part man and part parrot, swimming with a parrot tucked under his arm. The crosshatching represents a shaman. The spiral is a dust devil or tornado. Great work and flawless painting. (Not for sale) Sabino is the son of well known and highly respected Andres Villalba.
Esta olla de Sabino “Caby” Villalba representa a un dios de Paquimé, parte hombre y parte guacamaya, nadando con un guacamaya escondido bajo su brazo. El cruce de rayos representa a un chamán. La espiral es un diablo de polvo o tornado. Gran trabajo y pintura impecable. Sabino es hijo del muy conocido y muy respetado Andrés Villalba.
Museum director Jeff Romney wrote in 2016: Unfortunately our Casas Grandes region was almost completely plundered by people in the 1890s-1980s (most of whom were our own [Mexican] countrymen). Desafortunadamente nuestra region Casas Grandes fue casi complentamente saqueada por personas en los 1890s-1980s (la mayoria de las cuales fueron nuestros propios paisanos).
Mr. Romney has strong ties to the Nuevo Casas Grandes/Colonia Juárez/Mata Ortiz area and a college degree in anthropology. He explained, “Once the Paquime ruins were excavated in the late 1950s and the world began to see what marvels were discovered, people began digging in the many hundreds of other sites in the area in earnest. The 1960s-1980s saw the most digging from what we understand.
There are documented cases of earlier finds as well such as the US Army under Pershing when they went after Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolutionary Period. The US Army dug out several sites south of Casas Grandes.
Anyway…even today it is not uncommon for people to encounter pots, and other archaeological materials out in their fields when ditches, roads, canals, homes, and other things are constructed. In the 1880s, Nuevo Casas Grandes and the Mormon Colonies were founded. People were finding items when they prepared the surrounding area for the first time for crops, orchards, cattle ranges, etc. This is not to imply that “looting” occurred on a large scale of time. Large scale looting happened mostly during the 1960s-1980s. There may still be a handful of people out there doing it even today. Who knows?”
El Sr. Romney tiene fuertes lazos con el área de Nuevo Casas Grandes / Colonia Juárez / Mata Ortiz y un título universitario en antropología. Explicó: “Una vez que las ruinas de Paquime fueron excavadas a finales de la década de 1950 y el mundo comenzó a ver qué maravillas fueron descubiertas, la gente comenzó a cavar en los cientos de otros sitios de la zona en serio. Las décadas de 1960 y 1980 fueron las que más cavaron de lo que entendemos.
Hay casos documentados de hallazgos anteriores, así como el Ejército de EE.UU. bajo Pershing cuando se fueron después de Pancho Villa durante el Período Revolucionario Mexicano. El ejército estadounidense excavó varios sitios al sur de Casas Grandes.
De todos modos … aún hoy no es raro que la gente encuentre ollas y otros materiales arqueológicos en sus campos cuando se construyen zanjas, caminos, canales, casas y otras cosas. En la década de 1880 se fundaron Nuevo Casas Grandes y las Colonias Mormonas. La gente estaba encontrando artículos cuando prepararon el área circundante por primera vez para cultivos, huertos, cadenas de ganado, etc. Esto no significa que el “saqueo” ocurrió a gran escala de tiempo. Los grandes saqueos ocurrieron principalmente durante los años 1960s-1980s. Todavía puede haber un puñado de gente por ahí lo hace aún hoy. ¿Quién sabe?”
Historia y Alfareria de Juan Mata Ortiz
La historia completa de la alfarería Mata Ortiz necesita voces nuevas. Una reexaminación histórica es la base en gran parte de este contexto. James McPherson, presidente de la American Historical Association, dice que “la revisión es el alma de los estudios históricos. La historia es el diálogo contínuo entre el presente y el pasado. Las interpretaciones del pasado están sujetos a cambio en respuesta a nueva evidencia, preguntas nuevas que se hacen a la evidencia y nuevas perspectivas que se adquieren con el pasar de los años. No hay una sola, eterna y inmutable ‘verdad’ sobre los eventos en el pasado y su significado”.
Esta ampliada documentación histórica pasa a través de algunas suposiciones aceptadas. La documentación incluye las voces de muchas personas, entre las cuales, las de los alfareros del área de Mata Ortiz y Nuevo Casas Grandes.
Kiva es una revista trimestral que publica la Sociedad Arqueológica y Histórica de Arizona. En la edición de otoño de 1994, Scott Ryerson escribió que ningún alfarero del barrio de El Porvenir de Mata Ortiz fue incluido en una lista de Spencer MacCallum hecha en 1977 de alfareros que estaban trabajando con barro.
Sin embargo, gracias a la investigación de Jim Hills en 2010 en Nuevo Casas Grandes, Casas Grandes y Mata Ortiz, sabemos que habían muchas personas en el barrio de Porvenir haciendo ollas en los anos 1970. Alfareros del Porvenir como Rojelio Silveira, Emeterio Ortiz, Felix Ortiz, y Salvador Ortiz hacían la alfarería de Mata Ortiz en los años 1960 y 1970. También en reciente entrevistas en 2015 con muchos alfareros revelo que la tradición de la ceramica de Mata Ortiz surgió como un esfuerzo de grupo, y no de la inspiración de un solo hombre.
Se sabe de sobra que el muy conocido Juan Quezada estaba trabajando en barro en otra área de Mata Ortiz en la misma época. Así mismo, de acuerdo a la investigación de Julián Hernandez de Nuevo Casas Grandes, Manuel Olivas de Nuevo Casas Grandes, hacía ollas contemporánea al estilo Paquime, lo que ahora se llama alfarería Mata Ortiz, a principios de los años cincuenta. Manuel aprendió a trabajar con ollas de su abuela, Leonor Parra. En la revista Southwest, edición primavera 2012, Hernandez dijo que Manuel “estaba haciendo alfarería con diseños Paquimé a finales de 1951”.
De acuerdo a una investigación más reciente, “Spencer MacCallum continuamente ajustó su relato a través de los años en su intento de promover una sola narrativa, la cual requirió omitir, modificar, o diluir hechos.” Debido a este relato incompleto, se perdió la estima familiar y generó el resentimiento hacia las personas que estaban presentes en la historia de MacCallum. Ese resentimiento continúa hoy, con los actuales alfareros que hablan sobre las ramificaciones actuales, contemporáneas. Ya es hora de que sus voces estén incluidas para ampliar la historia de la alfarería tradicional de Mata Ortiz hacia una recolección mas completa.
LAS HISTORIAS NO CONTADAS DE PAQUIMÉ Y
MATA ORTIZ (PARTE DOS)
Por Ron Goebel y Nancy Andrews
“Es momento de incluir más voces y expandir la historia de la tradición alfarería de Mata Ortiz en una representación más completa”.
-Del documental de 2015 “Mata Ortiz: Las Historias No Contadas”
La alfarería en Mata Ortiz surgió como un esfuerzo grupal. La documentación muestra que en Mata Ortiz la tradición alfarería comenzó como un esfuerzo grupal y no con la inspiración de un solo hombre. El profesor Julián Hernández está de acuerdo: “Comenzaron a trabajar con el barro… todos juntos… para lograr mejores habilidades y realizar sus trabajos de alfarería”.
Marisela Ortiz reafirma este esfuerzo grupal cuando habla sobre la década de 1960 y de principios de la década de 1970, los primeros años de su padre en la alfarería. “Sí, mi padre Félix Ortiz fue uno de los primeros que comenzó a trabajar con barro, él y algunos de sus amigos”, destaca. Junto con su hermano, Emeterio, entre los amigos alfareros de Félix se encontraban Rojelio Silveira y Salbador Ortiz, tío del artista contemporáneo Eli Navarrete.
Eli Navarrete recuerda sus propios comienzos, cuando aprendió a fabricar ollas en Barrio Porvenir. “Me juntaba con Félix y su hermano mayor Emeterio. Fueron pioneros con Juan Quezada. Y uno de los primeros en utilizar técnicas nuevas fue mi tío, Salbador Ortiz. Los fines de semana, pasaba tiempo con familiares y amigos y hablábamos sobre encontrar nuevos materiales y herramientas”.
El alfarero pionero de Mata Ortiz, Rojelio Silveira, coincide y afirma que en la década de1960 Salbador Ortiz era uno de los alfareros auténticos del pueblo. En una entrevista de 2012 con el documentalista Richard Ryan de Mata Ortiz, Silveira relata: “Tenía unos 21 años cuando comencé a fabricar ollas. Fue antes de casarme”. Era el año 1965. “Ahí fue cuando hice una olla con dos rostros, una esfinge. Félix [Ortiz] hizo un cuenco pequeño y mi amigo Chava [Salbador Ortiz] hizo una olla pequeña. Así fue cómo empezamos. Comenzó cuando les dije: “Hagamos una olla”. Silveira había sido un saqueador, y también resultó que pudo fabricar una olla él mismo. “Así que dijeron, está bien, intentémoslo, y así lo hicimos. Todos juntos. Félix Ortiz, yo Rojelio Silveira y Salbador Ortiz. Los tres”.
LAS HISTORIAS NO CONTADAS DE PAQUIMÉ Y
MATA ORTIZ (PARTE TRES)
Por Ron Goebel y Nancy Andrews
Del mismo modo, los artistas jóvenes de la actualidad rápidamente le dan crédito a la comunidad por sus logros y comparten sus triunfos con colegas. El premiado alfarero Héctor Gallegos Junior avanza hasta el punto de darle el crédito a la tierra misma, junto con sus padres, por su inspiración y logros. “Todos nuestros materiales”, explica, “provienen de nuestra tierra, así que es muy importante para mí. La mayoría de nuestras tierras se han cultivado por mi familia durante muchas generaciones. Además de la alfarería, la mayoría de las personas vive de su tierra. Debido a mi amor por la naturaleza, comencé a representar a los animales y insectos del norte de México en mis trabajos de alfarería”. Gallegos continúa y ilustra su devoción por la comunidad de Mata Ortiz. “Cuando viajamos a exhibiciones, mostramos nuestro trabajo, pero también hablamos de la comunidad. No solo nos promocionamos a nosotros mismos. Promocionamos a toda la comunidad. Por ejemplo, Group of Seven es una nueva asociación civil de artistas que apoya a estudiantes locales con becas”. El premiado alfarero Diego Valles cree lo siguiente: “En Mata Ortiz, somos en verdad una comunidad de artistas. Creo que es por eso que no tenemos límites”.
“La revisión es el alma de los estudios históricos. La historia es un diálogo continuo entre el presente y el pasado. Las interpretaciones del pasado están sujetas al cambio en respuesta a nuevas evidencias, nuevos interrogantes a partir de la evidencia y nuevas perspectivas obtenidas con el paso del tiempo”. James McPherson
De hecho, los alfareros contemporáneos de Mata Ortiz comprenden las oportunidades ilimitadas para aquellos que tienen ideas de diseño vanguardistas y la disciplina para ejecutarlas. Iván Martínez, un ambicioso estudiante de marketing de 24 años de la Universidad de Paquimé y oriundo de Mata Ortiz, relata su éxito de 2014. “Ese año tuve el privilegio de ir a Tonolá, Jalisco”, cuenta Martínez. “No estaba acostumbrado a ir a competencias de alfarería. Ese año, tuve el coraje de presentar una pieza. Para mi sorpresa, mi trabajo ganó el segundo lugar a nivel nacional. Gracias al premio, tengo la motivación para continuar”. Su hermana, la premiada Viviana Martínez, de 19 años y también estudiante universitaria, le da el crédito a su hermano Iván por su propia motivación disciplinada. “Mis padres, hermano y amigos me mantienen innovadora. Cuando voy a la escuela y les digo a mis amigos lo bien que me está yendo, se sorprenden por todos los premios que he ganado y me dicen lo orgullosos que están de mí”, relata.
Ahora la tecnología moderna contribuye a la amplia variedad de posibilidades de promocionar la alfarería y, por lo tanto, de ganarse la vida con el arte. La apremiada alfarería Carla Martínez de Mata Ortiz señala que alrededor del 30% de los artistas jóvenes en el pueblo están conectados a Internet y usan correos electrónicos, Facebook y otros medios de comunicación para contactarse con potenciales compradores. La apremiada Elvira Bugarini Cota es una de las promotoras en línea. Bugarini expresa: “Nuestros nuevos clientes aparecen por Internet. Tenemos clientes por Internet que llaman desde Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen y Acapulco. Sí, Internet nos ha ayudado. Gracias a él, hemos podido llegar a personas de otros lugares que no conocían nuestro trabajo, gente de Francia, España, personas que no sabíamos que podían estar interesadas en nosotros. Internet nos ha servido mucho. Estoy orgullosa de lo que hemos logrado”.
En 2013, la hermana de Bugarini, Laura Bugarini Cota, ganó el primer lugar en la competencia nacional de alfarería en Tlaquepaque, Jalisco. Elvira Bugarini enfatiza lo siguiente: “A partir de 2013, hemos visto más interés en nuestro trabajo por parte de la gente en México. Vemos que las personas de México están interesadas en hacer que nuestro trabajo sea bien conocido a nivel nacional”. En cuanto al triunfo, Laura Bugarini reflexiona: “Este es el honor más grande que he tenido. Recibí el premio en Tlaquepaque, Jalisco. Lo recibí de las manos del presidente Peña Nieto. Es un gran honor para todos, para mí y para todos los alfareros de aquí que trabajan con barro. El premio es para todos nosotros”.
Así, en el siglo XXI vemos que la alfarería de Mata Ortiz es reconocida en México y más allá. La tradición que comenzó hace siglos con los alfareros de Paquimé, las ollas que replicó Manuel Olivas en la década de 1950 bajo la tutela de su abuela, Leonor Parra, el arte que recrearon Félix Ortiz, Salbador Ortiz y Rojelio Silveira y otros en la década de 1960, el arte que se volvió más amplio con el ingenio de Juan y Nicolás Quezada, ahora recibe extendido reconocimiento nacional e internacional. Ese reconocimiento les permite a los alfareros de Mata Ortiz continuar viviendo del arte y compartir su buena fortuna con otros. Como dice el maestro alfarero Macario Ortiz de Porvenir: “El sol brilla para todos”.
Copyright © 2016 Ron Goebel. Todos los derechos reservados.
Que Milagro? (What a Miracle?)
Today, July 27, 2016, at the Clay Festival in Silver City, New Mexico, visiting Mata Ortiz artist, Diego Valles, staged a reform of sorts: He credited the MATRIARCHS of Mata Ortiz with being the first potters in their community. At last!
For years, the role pot-making grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers played in the Mata Ortiz region was overlooked, sustaining an American-invented tale that pottery making was re-discovered in Mata Ortiz by a man who had never seen a potter at work. Yes, it was an American-invented myth. A myth of male dominance. A myth spread largely by American men with their own business interests and reputations at stake.
“Our grandmothers made utilitarian pottery out of necessity,” Valles asserted. “Pottery was part of the community.” He went on to say that “Later, in the fifties and sixties, it was a group of potters, the Silveiras and others,” that began what we now call the Mata Ortiz Pottery Movement. Collective sigh. It has finally been said out loud that generations of Mexican men and women are to be credited for Mata Ortiz Pottery.
And, Valles went on to speak about the long-held secret of mid-twentieth century pot hunting around Casas Grandes. “It’s not shameful,” said Valles. “What would YOU do?” he asked, explaining that people were hungry, black market demand was great for ancient pots, the laws about antiquities were looser and many people did not yet understand the cultural significance of ancient artifacts. Years later, Mexican and American researchers were told to keep quiet about early pot hunting in their papers and presentations.
It’s about a hundred years after female potters were working in Mata Ortiz. It’s sixty-five years after Manuel Olivas learned potting in Casas Grandes from his grandmother, Leonor Parra. It’s sixty years after pot hunters like the pioneer Rojelio Silveira unearthed ancient pots in order to feed their families. It’s over fifty years since Silveira, Félix and Emeterio Ortiz, Juan and Nicolás Quezada and Salbador Ortiz began making pots. Now we can breathe a collective sigh as the silence is broken by a contemporary artist who dares to tell us the truth. Mata Ortiz Pottery is not simply a mythic male miracle. It is the result of a diversity of human brilliance, hard work and collaboration. Que milagro!