Since the 1970’s, the potters of Mata Ortiz have evolved from painstaking experimentation to stunning mastery. Juan Quezada became intrigued with the many pottery shards he found around the ruins of Casas Grandes. Those historic pots were created by their Pueblo ancestors, who had fled south after the collapse of the Pueblo Revolt, in the 1680’s. Juan Quezada and others patiently tried to work out how their ancestors had created those pieces – and triumphantly succeeded, in time.
Now, the leading potters of Mata Ortiz are represented in museums and collections, worldwide. This gorgeous, imposing jar reveals the creative marriage of traditional motifs and personal innovation that is a characteristic of this very special pottery. Those familiar with Pueblo Indian designs will recognize the stepped motif that accents the bird-like motif in the center of the jar. Likewise, the boldly colored band that swirls around the pot is reminiscent of Pueblo ceremonial sashes. TIny squares form some of the elements, like those seen in some Acoma pots. Every bit is painted with amazing precision, and there is a general sense of traditional Native ornamentation throughout. However, the beautiful, marbleized background, like abundant white clouds scudding along a tender blue sky, is like nothing seen north of the border. That is a manifestation of Mata Ortiz creativity and innovation.
With its generous curves, the form of the pot is beautifully in sync with the swirling designs. Notice how even the rim continues the curvaceousness: off-set, rounded and graceful. The whole pot is integrated in form, design and palette. This is innovative, fine, Mata Ortiz pottery.