Yoly Ledezma

Mata Ortiz and
Casas Grandes
Yoly Ledezma
Red and black checkerboard design on a polychrome jar with a square-lipped opening

Contrary to others in her illustrious family who work almost exclusively with white-bodied vessels, Yolanda "Yoly" Ledezma de Ortega generally works with red clays and makes wide-shouldered small jars with unusual flared rims. Then she paints them in quadrillos, a red and black checkerboard style, sometimes adding white dots, contrasting colored ants and/or miscellaneous geometrics to the mix.

There are two primary styles of design in Mata Ortiz: the Porvenir, named for the barrio in which it originated, and the Quezada, named for the man who originated it. The Quezada style begins with a loose flowing design that encompasses a large part of the surface of a piece and uses the white space as part of the overall design. The Porvenir style emphasizes covering nearly the entire surface of the piece with some element of design, whether carved, etched or painted, while leaving the top and bottom of the piece in the original color of the fired clay. Yoly adheres closely to the Porvenir style with single colored top and bottom and the rest of the surface completely filled with design.

Yoly's children, Santiago Ortega and Celia Ortega Ledezma, both learned to make award-winning pots from her while they were growing up.

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