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Hand built olla with sculpted butterfly on lid. This piece comes with is own custom base. Made by first generation artist, Graciela Martinez Flores.



Graciela Martinez's journey began amidst the struggles of families seeking livelihood in the early 1900s Mexico. Her roots trace back to Mata Ortiz, a village shaped by the booming Pearson lumber mill, drawing immigrants in search of work. Graciela's Chinese-Mexican randfather, José Fong Poi, found a home overseeing a hotel, marking the family's arrival in Mata Ortiz.

Her childhood in a modest adobe home, with dirt floors and limited amenities, shaped her resilience. Mata Ortiz lacked running water and electricity, and Graciela applied makeup by candlelight. In the '70s, seeking adventure, she briefly worked in Juárez before returning to Mata Ortiz, where fate reunited her with Héctor Gallegos at a village dance. Despite family disapproval, they eloped in 1975, navigating early struggles.

Their journey took them from Mata Ortiz to Chihuahua City, where Héctor swept floors for a uranium mining company. The return in 1985 unveiled Mata Ortiz's pottery evolution, with international recognition for its artists. The Gallegos, inspired by this transformation, embarked on a pottery-making venture.

Graciela's pottery journey began with encouragement from neighbor Armando Rodríguez. Despite initial challenges, Graciela, with two toddlers and twins on the way, ventured into pottery. The duo honed their skills, with Graciela forming pots and Héctor mastering painting. Héctor's unique, imaginative designs evolved on dry clay without sketches, creating museum-worthy pieces.

The Gallegos, relying on traditional techniques, craft brushes using human hair from an American tourist. Their meticulous process involves buffing surfaces with chilicote seed, showcasing their dedication to perfection. Awards and recognition followed, though record-keeping wasn't part of their cultural custom.

Their first solo show in 1996 marked a turning point, leading to exhibitions, workshops, and success across the United States, Mexico, and France. Their pottery prowess not only provided financial security but also involved all four of their children in the Mata Ortiz pottery movement.

In the hands of Graciela and Héctor Gallegos, the art of Mata Ortiz pottery has transcended generations, embodying resilience, creativity, and a profound connection to their cultural roots.



Paddock, Ana Livingston. “Mata Ortiz: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art.” Journal of the Southwest 54, no. 1 (2012): 249–72.

Graciela Martinez Florez |Butterfly Olla | Mata Ortiz Pottery



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