Juan Valencia Villalobos
NOTE: Juan was presented with a special award for this entry in the Tradicional Concurso Estatal de Artesanías on Día de los Muertos 2022 in Páztcuaro, Michoacán.
Juan Valencia Lobos is a first generation artisan working in maque (lacquer ware) who lives and works in Uruapan, Michoacán. In 1984, he met the family of Maestra Francisca Tulais Urbina, and it was in her family workshop that he first encountered the craft of maque. Three years later, at her invitation, he apprenticed while attending school.
Uruapan in Michoacán is considered the cradle of maque together with other centers in Chiapas and Guerrero. Maque art flourished there long before European contact. Maque in Michoacán probably dates from between the 8th and 12th centuries, when a wave of cultural innovations appeared, along with metallurgy and a new ceramic style.
Maque is a decorative technique that consists of the application of natural each pigments and oils, extended uniformly with the palm of the hand on bowls, boxes and wooden trays. Upon drying, the piece becomes hardened and develops a beautiful, lustrous surface. The incrustation technique is applied to this surface, which is achieved by etching the desired design with a knife or sharp utensil on the lacquered surface of the object before it is completely dry. The final step is to etch out the places in the design which are to be a different color, and to fill in these areas with the new colors. The piece must dry for several days between color changes.
In 2011, Juan was invited by the Secretary de Cultura Michoacánto give a maque workshop in the community of Periban de Ramos Michoacán, where he continues teaching to this day. Juan’s unique style has garnered him many awards including: 2022 Gallardon (prestigious award given for merit) at the Concurso Artesanal de Uruapan; Premio Especial (Special Award) Concurso Regional de Maque en Uruapan 2016, Premio Especial (Special Award) en el Concurso Domingo de Ramos en Uruapan 2017 and Second Place at Domingo de Ramos en Uruapan 2018.
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