Mata Ortiz Pot
Destination: Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico
Books: The Many Faces of Mata Ortiz, several contributors
Keith Jenkins, over at Velvet Escape, asked me if I had met anybody inspirational in my travels. Keith is a true world traveler, and an excellent writer, besides. I felt honored to write a guest post for the series, that Keith calls, “A World of Inspiration.”
The place where I met the man who inspired me– Mata Ortiz, Mexico– seems to be off limits at present. So perhaps we would-be travelers can just curl up with a good book, while we are waiting for the swine H1N1 flu epidemic to end and traffic around the world to get back to normal.
The Many Faces of Mata Ortiz (1999) provides a wonderful guide to anyone going to Mata Ortiz to shop for pottery. But even if you are not going there, the pictures of the amazing creations of the villagers, and the photographic portraits of village family members will keep you enthralled. The book covers the history of how Juan Quezada turned the little struggling railroad workers village into a thriving art center. (For more about Juan, you’ll have to go over to Velvet Escape.) Suffice it to say that the work is considered fine art–not craft or folk art.
The book explains how the potters work and how they are related. You will be amazed at the intricate designs of the pottery and its relationship to the nearby archaeological site of Casas Grandes. The relationships of potters are equally intricate. Writers include Susan Lowell, Jim Hills, Jorge Quintana Rodriquez, Walter Parks and Michael Wisner. Photography is by W. Ross Humphreys and Robin Stancliff.
I hope that if you have never been to Mata Ortiz, a few hours south of the Arizona or New Mexico borders, that you will be able to travel there some time. In the meantime, take a look at this beautiful book.
Another book in my traveler’s library, The Miracle of Mata Ortiz, by Walter P. Parks, was published in 1994, and was the fundamental guide until Many Faces of Mata Ortiz was published.
I have not yet see a book released in August, 2008, Mata Ortiz Pottery: Art and Life, by Ron Goebel , but it sounds good. More personal stories about the potters.
Photograph above by Cliff Kemper from Flickr under Creative Commons license.
Have you been to Mata Ortiz? How is the flu epidemic affecting your travel plans? Please talk back in the comment section below.