Tag Archives: primitive pottery

Blog photo green hills Sept 2012

MATA ORTIZ: OPEN LETTER

Open Letter

 Ay Ay Ay

The Mexican Consulate in El Paso is preparing to commemorate an American presence in Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico. It is important to note that along with economic development, the U.S. presence brought with it paternalistic myths and misbehavior. The male Anglo-centric legend of Mata Ortiz pottery neglects the critical initial role of women utilitarian potters in the region. Additionally, the myth excludes early Mexican traders and entire groups of early commercial potters, such as those in Nuevo Casas Grandes and the Porvenir neighborhood of Mata Ortiz, in the recklessly incomplete American version of the development of Mexican Mata Ortiz pottery tradition. Why the Mexican Consulate chooses to commemorate exclusionary and irresponsible non-native behavior in their beautiful country is a mystery. The contemporary pottery of Mata Ortiz is indeed some of the best in the world. The Mata Ortiz artists, from the earliest Olivas, Ortiz, Quezada and Silveira potters to those of today, are recognized internationally. But generally speaking the American “‘I’ ‘I’ ‘I’” version of the U.S. presence in the region is not exemplary. Mexican potters, and Mexican potters alone, are responsible for the extraordinary ceramics renaissance in and around Mata Ortiz.

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.