This past summer, I spent about two weeks in Oaxaca, México, utilizing money I had been awarded through the Ali Pratt Travel Grant to study methods of Mexican and pre-Hispanic Ceramics. I was also there to break away from the New England color palette my brain was stuck in; I needed to refresh my mind’s eye and expose myself to unfamiliar techniques, designs, and motifs. I spent a little over a week in Oaxaca city and then travelled over the mountains to the coast and spent time in Puerto Escondido, another city in the state of Oaxaca. In both cities, and along the way between them, I was surrounded by color at all times. The architectural palette and general aesthetic of the state of Oaxaca is bright and alive. Signs are hand-painted and full of creative intention and the walls they are painted on are just as full of spirit. The natural stones themselves exude color from deep inside. I spent much of my time on my trip, simply basking in the cacophony of color that is Oaxaca.
Some of the primary pre-Hispanic Ceramic methods included the Barro Negro style, the Barro Verde style, and the Cochineal style, all of which I saw and studied in Museums and local markets. While walking around an indigenous market in Tlacolula, I met a local artist who was studying under the wing of a young master ceramicist. We exchanged information and the next day, he took me to meet his teacher, Adrián Martínez. I spent a day in Adrián’s open-air studio in the hills of Atzompa, communicating with him in a mix of broken Spanish and broken English, learning how he utilized ancient pre-Hispanic ceramic methods and blended them with more contemporary ideas.
My time spent in Oaxaca opened my mind up to creating in completely new ways. My color palette changed – I began working with muted versions of bright colors, mimicking the ancient stonework I saw all over the state.
This exploration into Oaxacan aesthetics has only just begun, so I will have to keep you updated on my progress! For now, here are some in-process shots.