Néstor Omar Hernández Santiago, San Juan Bautista Guelache, Oaxaca

Néstor Omar Hernández Santiago, San Juan Bautista Guelache, Oaxaca

Rethinking the tradition to evolve, transform and innovate has been a constant in the life of young artisan Omar Hernández, born, as he says, into ceramics. His father taught him the fundamentals, and at age 18 he apprenticed to learn traditional designs and methods. But then he began developing his own style which is garnering him praise and recognition for the new way he has found to express himself through his work.

Creating 3 styles and using various techniques, Omar makes — objects inspired by his Mexican pre-Hispanic roots, utilitarian pieces that are transformed by his own designs and changed into arte objects, and ornamental pieces inspired by nature. He enjoys working with the colors of the earth and takes inspiration from nature's forms such as tree trunks and leaves.

He uses a mold for his pots and bowls. The clay is placed into the mold where he presses it into the desired shape and thickness using his hands. Then he applies the engobe to close the pores of the clay. Engobe is a white or colored clay mixture applied to pottery for decoration or to improve the surface texture. Next, he fires the work in either a gas or wood kiln.

The last step is decorating the fired piece using either esgrafiado (scratching) on the surface to make the elements of the decorations or by placing actual leaves or rocks into the fresh clay before being fired. He is continually experimenting with new techniques and designs.

Omar left his studies in architecture to devote full time to his ceramic work. He is working with the next generation in order to pass on his training.

(Our thanks to  Fomento Cultural Banamex for allowing us to use photos and narrative from "The Great Masters of Oaxaca.")

Constitución 2, Colonia Centro

San Gabriel Etla, 

San Juan Bautista Guelache, Oaxaca

951 196 8668