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Clay, maize and tools for life
Innovando la Tradición: Kythzia Barrera Suárez, Diego Mier y Terán, and María Bautista Leon
Nov 05, 2019 (1pm)

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María Bautista teaches the traditional way of making pottery in Chiapas, which she learned when she was eight years old. The instruction begins with sharing how clay is harvested in the fields through to firing clay works in a wood kiln. Bautista instructs how to hand-build clay using essential tools to create vessels used to eat and drink. This program also includes creating and enjoying a traditional maize-based drink.

Innovando la Tradición is a collective and multidisciplinary nonprofit that seeks to revitalize traditional pottery in Oaxaca, Mexico to bring visibility to the profound knowledge of this centuries-old craft. The organization positions pottery as a tool of economic stability, cultural development, an agent of social cohesion, and a source of inspiration in the construction of new paradigms for a more balanced relationship with the world. This mission is realized through workshops, courses, and skill exchanges to share the work of master potters and pass on the discipline to younger artisans. Colectivo 1050º is the commercial arm of the nonprofit Innovando la Tradición, and sells the products that are handmade in Oaxaca by traditional potters and designers. The company operates on principles of fair trade, with a strong emphasis on ecologically sound practices.

María Bautista León was born into a Mexican family dedicated to pottery and she considers herself as potter since the age of eight. She has shared this ancestral wisdom with other people who have an interest in learning how to mold and create with their hands through this noble activity. Additionally, León has collaborated on the project Mujeres y Maíz (Women and Maize), which builds paths for food sovereignty and good living alongside women who sell corn products like toasts, tortillas, and tamales.

Kythzia Barrera is an industrial designer, and cofounder of Innovando la Tradición and Colectivo 1050º, organizations that support the development of pottery communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. Barrera’s work strengthens the bridges between art, craft, and design to foster social and human change. Honesty and open disclosure from the conventional and privileged designers position shapes an essential part of Kythzia's creative leadership as Head of Innovando Tradición and dynamic CEO of Colectivo 1050º. She holds a master’s degree in social and sustainable design by The Design Academie Eindhoven, Netherlands; in addition to having completed postgraduate coursework in ceramics at the School of Art and Design Helsinki, Finland; and in crafts and design at Kyoto Institute of Technology. She previously served as sustainable design professor at Centro and Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico.

Diego Mier y Terán is cofounder and director of Innovando la Tradición and Colectivo 1050º and is interested in the social and ethical dimension of design and its power as an agent of change. He holds a master’s degree in type design from Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Netherlands. Terán teaches across many universities in Mexico and previously ran the Workshop of Utopias at the Universidad Iberoamericana which prepared students to challenge the conventions of contemporary society and design practice.

Image: Innovando la Tradicion archive

For more information on the exhibition, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio: Unraveling Modern Living, click here.