I am so excited today to tell you about my friend Diego Valles. I first met him at the Tampa NCECA in 2011 and our friendship has grown since then. Our mutual friend, Marko Fields introduced me to him as one of the emerging artists of the Mata Ortiz village in Chichuahua, Mexico. I had been seeing examples of his work (first image) in the graphic design for the conference and was really excited to meet him. Since then, we have stayed connected through NCECA conferences and Facebook.
My prior knowledge and understanding of Mata Ortiz pottery had been fairly limited to a childrens book we have here about Juan Quezada. (Embarassingly, I actually had been under the false impression that “Mata Ortiz” was essentially a bygone culture from history, with perhaps a few descendants that continue to tell the stories and make a few works.) In reality, the pottery village developed relatively recently (1960s) and has grown steadily and flourished. Now, there are between 400-500 Mata Ortiz potters. And if Mata Ortiz were a rock and roll band, Diego would definitely be the front man. His charisma and passion for life and art are not only evident from first meeting, they are also transferred into his work. The excrutiating detail and skill reflect his patience, persistance and practice toward perfection, and perhaps also is a nod to him being an engineer as well. The work and the man are as one.
Diego is, i believe, a third generation potter in the Mata Ortiz village. He and his wife, Carla (also a Mata Ortiz potter,….watch for a post about her soon) are working on “the fourth generation” as well. Their two daughters are involved in helping out in “the family business” (hmmm, that sounds familiar!).
Most recently, I contacted Diego about the new set of Lesson Plans I am developing, featuring alternatives to traditional European approaches to ceramics. I asked if he could point me in the direction of some good resource materials. Instead he told me he would send me some things. He is so generous and kind. I guess you could say i’m a pretty big fan. You should be too! Check our links for more, and follow his instagram