In an unbroken lineage over the last four millennia, potters in the villages of Southern Mexico have created functional pottery with only clay, water, fire, and their skilled hands.
Through this creation they have fulfilled their needs at home, created an artistic language, passed a trade on to their children, and kept their villages healthy, while maintaining a stable balance with their natural resources. They have achieved this through systems of resource and time management that are at once complex and simple. In contemporary terms we would call this production
This is an exhibit about simple, utilitarian, indigenous pottery from Mexico. It could easily be labeled as rustic. And it is. One is less likely to label it as sophisticated, yet it is that as well.
Nearly all the pottery villages of Oaxaca are completely unknown beyond the regions where they sell their work. Their trade has been dissapearing due to radical changes and pressures from their social, economic and even environmental context. Hence, we find a stable and strong traditional pottery in just a few communities.
And while these humble potters may be indifferent to this fact, the rest of us, without even knowing it, are missing the opportunity to learn from them. Their wisdom and experience has led to the creation of objects that beautifully balance elegant, functional design, the social well being of the potters and compatibility with the environment. Ignored for centuries, the time has come to honor these creators, even as their pottery is disappearing.
Fire and Clay is composed of pottery from over 70 pottery villages, the fruit of 20 years of exploration in rural Oaxaca. It is the first of its kind, presented now so that we may open our eyes to the subtle, deep beauty of this rustic, sophisticated, complex and simple pottery.