Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology is on every tourist’s bucket list, and for good reason: it contains thousands of artifacts, sculpture and ceramics from Mexico’s Mesoamerican civilizations. It’s also an infinite source of inspiration for the Mexico City-based ceramicist Perla Valtierra. “I am fascinated with material culture,” says Valtierra, speaking to Attersee from her home in the city’s El Pedregal neighborhood. Herutilitarian pieces are handmade from clay sourced from different regions of Mexico, where she collaborates with local artisans – experimenting with different firing temperatures and enameling techniques — to create her collections. From the imprints on her scalloped serving dishes to the ribboning down the sides of her vases, Valtierra’s vessels are sensual and corporeal, evoking the handmade process and the people who produced them.
Born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico, Valtierra studied industrial design at UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) in Mexico City. After winning the Biennale of Utilitarian Ceramics in Mexico during her final year, she had the opportunity to work with local craftspeople in central Mexico, where she lived before moving to Brussels and opening her first pottery studio there. But it wasn’t until she lived in Japan for a year, in 2014, that she began to fully establish her brand.
“Growing up in Mexico, you are surrounded by crafts and craftsmanship, so you don’t really appreciate it that much,” she says. “The Japanese are very ceramics-oriented, and their perspective made me think more about the utilitarian nature of ceramics. There are so many objects that we use everyday, and some of them are ugly or poorly constructed. To me, the cup that you drink from every morning should fit perfectly into your hand, like how your favorite dress fits.”