Nighttime Firing and Primitive Pottery

Suzy 5Photos All 030The Community of Potters

“A wild wind howls through the black night of autumn. This is neither the hour nor the weather for firing. Yet near the ancient river, tall flames pierce the dark. Sparks spiral toward the heavens. The shadowy specter of a woman moves within the amber glow of an adobe wall. The lone potter circles the bonfire of her pots.

Her day has been long. Four sons, as bright as they are unruly, have exhausted her. The one girl, her youngest, is sweet-tempered and delicate and worries her. Her man, handsome and talented, tries her patience. At last they are asleep.

On the kitchen table, a J C Penney catalog lies open to a page of children’s jackets. Winter nears. Traders from the north may be willing to bring the coats she has selected in exchange for a fine black pot.

Under the timeless moon, in the abiding warmth of a fire, the woman works into the early hours of a new day. Like mothers through the ages, she is conjuring the future. Like potters of bygone millennia, she sends messages through time, beams of firelight and bits of clay, to past and future artists who rest among the stars.”

2012-06-18 22.54.53References

Gilbert, Bill, ed. The Potters of Mata Ortiz/Las ceramistas de Mata Ortiz: Transforming a Tradition. Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Museum, 1995.

Goebel, Ron. Mata Ortiz Pottery: Art and Life. San Jose, California: DeHart Publishing, 2008.

 

Mata Ortiz Pottery, Kids and Family

When the late Mata Ortiz potter Nicolas Quezada said, “We will keep the pottery tradition alive for the children and the children’s children,” he was referring in part to these girls, at that time not yet born. These little playmates are cousins. They are the daughters of four great families of Mata Ortiz potters. Their world emphasizes both academic and artistic excellence.

After daily carpools to private school in nearby Colonia Juarez, Pablita (left, now nine years old) returns to a home enriched by the ancient pottery tradition. In fact, that pottery tradition affords her family the tuition. Mia Guadalupe (right, now six) earns academic achievement awards at Mata Ortiz Primary School.

Both will likely become excellent potters in their own right. Indeed, Pablita is already selling her small pieces, using her earnings in any way she chooses, subject of course to her parents’ approval. Sometimes she gives her pots as gifts to special friends. What a gift!

Pablita and Mia Guadalupe

Pablita and Mia Guadalupe

And, don’t worry, quiet playful moments like the one pictured are abundant, children are allowed to be children, in a balance as delicate and beautiful as the pottery.

Nicolas Quezada pot

Nicolas Quezada pot