arte popular merida

Postcard from Merida, Mexico: Incorrigible cats and other fine ‘arte popular’

Okay, the blog obviously has left Italy. Am diving you straight into Merida in the Yucatan for a dose of fine contemporary folk art from throughout Central and South America, but primarily Mexico, from the collection of Fomento Cultural Banamex, Citibanamex.

From fanciful painted wooden alebrijes to intricate weaving, these pieces from the bank’s collection are housed in the admission-free Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatan on the Parque de la Mejorada.

It never really hit me until this past week that a large part of what makes fine folk art so beautiful to behold is that it is created by people who have devoted themselves to mastering their one craft. Jack Morgan’s interview on Texas Public Radio with a San Antonio ceramicist, Diana Kersey, brought the point home for me:

…a visit to the Mexican pottery town of Mata Ortiz to see how they mastered pottery there crystallized something to her.

“That’s where I really had this kind of amazing moment where I finally understood the only way to really get good at something is to place limits on what you’re going to use,” she said.

The idea was that limiting the variety of materials you use and techniques you employ actually expands what you can do with those materials.

“There’s research done on creativity, and creativity only thrives when there’s limits, which you would think would be the opposite,” Kersey said.

This counter-intuitive premise has her limiting the elements and processes she uses, and she thinks that’s the secret to her success.

“Now I’m moving into nearly 20 years working in this way. And I feel like I’ve mastered my process and my materials because of it,” she said.

Some of Kersey’s earlier work can be seen here.

My apologies to the above artists for the lack of identification. My photos of labels proved somewhat illegible….

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