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Mujeres del Barro Rojo

Women of the Red Clay
Ceramic Arists
San Marcos Tlapazola, Oaxaca, México

about the artists

The Mateo family are from a small Zapotec village San Marcos Tlapazola. This rural village is about a an hour's drive from Oaxaca city along rocky roads into the mountains. For 20 generations the families of this village have made red clay pottery into cookware and sold them to the neighbouring villages. This limited market made it difficult to make a living. Marcina Mateo at age 18 wanted to take their pottery further into the main city of Oaxaca and to learn more modern styles and techniques. The family was ostracized as single women were not supposed to leave home alone. Macrina learned about making pottery for aesthetic purposes as well as function. Her ability to blend tradition with innovation has enabled her work to be appreciated throughout Mexico and globally. Every year after the corn harvest, the Mateo women head into the mountains to unearth the red clay. Once back at the house the clay is moulded by hand or on a wheel. It is then scraped with leather, corn hobb and stone. When enough pieces are ready they are fired on an open fire. The finished result is pottery that is not only rich in colour and texture but also provides a unique earthy quality to the food and drink. Throughout the years, the Mateo family has found global success, including articles on National Geographic and the New York Times, as well as having their pieces shown in New York's Museum of Modern Art and even as far as the Vatican.


Mujeres del Barro Rojo Catalog

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