The Pottery of Mata Ortiz

In the early 1950s, a twelve-year-old boy named, Juan Quezada,(31) gathered firewood in the mountains near the village of Mata Ortiz in Chihuahua, Mexico. Though he dreamed of becoming an artist, Quezada spent all of his free time selling firewood to help support his family.In the mountains, Quezada found shards of pots, and an occasional complete pot,(32) painted with intricate red and black designs. These were artifacts from his ancestors, the Paquimé (or Casas Grandes) Indians, who lived in the area from about AD 1000 to AD 1400. Fascinated by the geometric designs, Quezada wondered, if he could make pots like these? (33)

(34) He dug the clay, soaked it, and tried to shape it into a pot. In time, he figured out how his ancestors had mixed the clay with volcanic ash to keep it from cracking and had used minerals found nearby to create paints. When it was time to paint his pots, Quezada designed his own complex geometric patterns. As an adult, Quezada found a job with the railroad, but he always made time for his art.

By 1976 he was selling pots to travelers and had taught (35)several members of his family how to make pots. Three of Quezada’s pots were discovered in a junk shop in New Mexico by anthropologist Spencer MacCallum, who at first thought they were prehistoric. (36)D His search for their creator led him(37) to Mata Ortiz and an eventual (38)partnership with Quezada.

MacCallum showed Quezada’s pots to art dealers in the United States, the places in which (39)art galleries were soon offering Quezada thousands of dollars for them. [1] Quezada helped his village with the money he earned selling pottery, but he wanted to do more so.(40) [2] So he taught people from Mata Ortiz to make pots. [3] Today there are more than four hundred potters around, (41)all of which (42)make their pots by hand, following the traditions of the Paquimé Indians. [4] The village is thriving, and many museums proudly display the pottery of Mata Ortiz. [5] Each artist brought something unique to they’re (43)creations.(44)


  • B. a dedication to teaching

  • C. a teacher of

  • D. has taught