Mata Ortiz Village Pottery

Dragonflies by Laura Damaris Quezada

SKU VP-01-22

1 in stock


Between his palms, Walt Parks cradles a white clay pot about the size of an ostrich egg. He rotates it slowly, displaying an intricate design executed in fine lines of red and black paint. Is it an abstract pattern -- arcs, triangles, zigzags, and quadrilaterals? Or does it portray wings, fangs, and galaxies? Once, this luminous globe was a mud clod in a Mexican gully. Now, polished smoother than eggshell and nearly as thin, it is exquisite to the touch and the eye. An ordinary laborer makes $6 a day in the village of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, where the pot was formed. But this double fistful of clay may sell for a thousand times that sum. A signature has been scratched into the bottom: Juan Quezada. Behind that name lies a fabulous tale. Since 1984, Walt Parks has played a crucial role in the artistic and economic miracle of Mata Ortiz, a tiny adobe town in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, about 80 miles south of the New Mexico border. It's the story of a poor woodcutter who transformed into one of Mexico's most famous artists. It's the story of a hungry, dusty village that learned how to sell its dirt.  "Before Juan Quezada," says Parks, "Mata Ortiz was a village with a past bu...