Columbus’s encounter with the Americas and Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world marked the beginning of the modern era of global trade. Mexico sat at the crossroads where Asian objects traversed the Pacific, European goods came over the Atlantic, and Mexican products were exported in return. Objects from all these areas came together in colonial Mexico, inspiring local artists to alter and mingle details in new ways. Nowhere is this new dynamic more evident than in art made from clay.
Mud to Masterpiece: Mexican Colonial Ceramics explores the era of global trade and its effect on traditional Mexican earthenware, Chinese porcelain and Mexican majolica. Between 1521 and 1821, the ancient Mexican ceramic art of unglazed, low-fired earthenware was exported to Spain where it became quite fashionable. In return, Spanish artists introduced the potter’s wheel and high-fired hard glazes to Mexico, producing a pottery known as majolica. Trade brought Chinese porcelain to Mexico and its decorative motifs influenced both native earthenware and Mexican majolica. More than 30 pieces of Chinese porcelain, Mexican earthenware, and Mexican majolica will be exhibited alongside Mexican colonial paintings that depict the use of ceramics in daily life.