Adelina Pedro Martínez, San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca
Barro negro (black clay) is a craft that has given fame to Oaxaca. Indigenous groups and many of its pre-Hispanic cultural traditions still persist as reflected in the abundant pottery production in their communities, in which varying levels of expertise, technique, interpretation and use as utilitarian, ceremonial and ornamental pottery is seen.
Adelina Pedro Martínez was born in 1963 in San Bartolo Coyotepec, in the valley of Oaxaca, located eight kilometers from the city of Oaxaca. She is of Zapotec decent and her barro negro art represents her indigenous identity. She speaks Spanish as well as the native language of her ancestors.
The method of processing the black clay is a traditional pre-Hispanic method of using two concave clay plates, one supporting the other downwards. A piece may take from 20 to 30 days to complete depending on how elaborate it is. The black clay is extracted from a spot near the village and is especially prepared. Before a piece is fired, it dries in the sun for four days, then the decorations are applied and dries another four days. When it is fired, the clay takes on the black metallic color which has made barro negro famous.
For Adelina, working with the clay brings her peace, offers her a voice as a woman and allows her to keep the heritage she is so proud of alive. After her household chores are completed, she takes refuge in her workshop to give life to mermaids, angels, birds and other creatures of her imagination.
San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca