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Ceramic Stimulus: How Pottery Changed One Rural Town

Hector Gallegos Jr., a Mata Ortiz potter, adds some sgraffito detail to a vase.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that, after having working in this business for nearly seven years, and having been an aspiring potter for many years before that, I did not know the Mata Ortiz story. I had heard of Mata Ortiz and Juan Quezada, and had seen images of the work, but until this week, I didn’t know the whole story.


But I finally got around to watching the Mata Ortiz Pottery Phenomenon, and I must say, it was a truly fascinating film. Until now, I had assumed that Mata Ortiz pottery was produced by traditional potters using age old techniques particular to that region, which had been passed down for hundreds and hundreds of years. But the Mata Ortiz pottery tradition was all started about 40 years ago by one self-taught man – Quezada – and it brought a dying town back to life. So today, I thought I would share a little taste of this compelling story. With the news we hear daily about the various economic crises around the world, I figured we could all use a happy story! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


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This clip was excerpted from the documentary film
The Mata Ortiz Pottery Phenomenon,
which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore.

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