Mata Ortiz Collection

About Mata Ortiz Pottery and the CCA Collection

Mata Ortiz is a small village in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico. It is very near the archaeological site of Paquime (Casas Grandes) which dates from the 1100’s. In the 1970’s, a young man named Juan Quezada became interested in the pottery shards he found in the hills around his home. He began reproducing pottery in the style of the archeological site of Paquime (Casas Grandes) with materials he found locally. Soon others from the village joined him and today there are over 450 potters in the village and surrounding area.

Many potters still use the traditional designs but the movement continues to evolve as many potters today are third generation. They are very innovative and continue to explore new ideas.

The potters do not use a wheel but form the pots with their hands. The clay is obtained from around the village using pick-axes and shovels. The paints are natural. The pottery is dung-fired on the ground, not in a kiln. Each piece is signed by the artist.

You will find Mata Ortiz pottery in museums around the world. The collection of Mata Ortiz pottery currently on display at CCA is on permanent loan by a group of Chatfield High School graduates that were introduced to Mata Ortiz pottery by Mary (Chase) Borgen in spring of 2014. While visiting LaDonna (Jackson) Boyd in Arizona, Darold and June (Borgen) Olson were immediately smitten and began looking for pieces in galleries in the Phoenix area, Tucson and Silver City, New Mexico. They were told by many gallery owners that it was very dangerous to visit Mata Ortiz and that the gallery owners bought their pottery from potters that came north to sell their wares.

Darold and June soon became aware of several websites that sold Mata Ortiz pottery. Darold ordered a few pieces online and discovered that one of the websites was in Hastings, Minnesota, just a few miles from where they live. Darold went to visit the shop and met Ron Martino who has made several trips to the village to buy pottery to sell in his shop. Ron encouraged Darold and June to make a trip to Mata Ortiz ourselves — telling them that they would absolutely fall in love with the people and that it was quite safe to travel into Mexico.

They searched online and found a guide, John Hatch, who is a dual citizen of Mexico and the U.S. John was born in Mexico in a Mormon settlement and has lived in the state of Chihuahua all his life. He speaks both Spanish and English like a native and is very knowledgeable about the history of the area.

Darold, June, and Ladonna decided they would make the trip and began to make plans — which included getting two more friends from Chatfield interested in going to Mata Ortiz — Tom Touhy and Judy Stites.

They first arranged to meet John Hatch in Douglas, Arizona on February 16, 2016 and made several more trips on this new adventure.