16"high x 7"diam ~ wood fired stoneware
Decorated with ancient Mexican motifs from flat stamps found in Mexico City and Chalco, painted on freehand with wax to resist the glaze.
Cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation? I consulted my Uncle (by marriage) who is of ancient Mexican ancestry. He and my Aunty are educators of local tradition where they live in AZ. They discussed the question and conclude the decorations here are examples of appreciation: "The characters and motif are of such antiquity and rather nonspecific that they could not be assigned to any specific culture and they probably were not even from the area where they were found. Obviously the portrayal spoke to you and you replicated it very respectfully" - Aunty Donna's and Uncle Loren's words about it.
Flat stamps of ancient Mexico were used as currency and so could have been made quite a distance from where they were found, making an important question 'Am I better off than the original designer?' almost unanswerable. These images are from a book called Design Motifs of Ancient Mexico by Jorge Enciso, published 1947. A paragraph on the back cover grants copyright-free permission, encouraging artists, handicraft workers, and commercial designers to use the images in our work ... but the book is from 1953 and views on appropriation/exploitation have evolved since then.
I have no need to exploit the images and I don't make a habit of directly copying from other cultures, my mind is rich with original thought. When I came across these stamp designs I wanted to express my attraction to them and to feel what it was like to apply those kind of lines in my work. The decorating of the vessel happened before I began to understand what this subject really means to the first people.
If you have opinions or questions about this to share with me, please send them through my contact page. I will love to hear from you.