Goyin Silveira

Mata Ortiz and
Casas Grandes
Goyin Silveira

Mata Ortiz potter Goyin Silveira was born in 1978. He grew up surrounded by other Mata Ortiz potters, which means he's been immersed in one of the world's most prolific pottery traditions. His parents, Goyo Silveira and Gloria Hernandez, are both well-known potters and they have told us they encouraged Goyin to begin playing with clay at an early age.

He began producing pottery when he was about 20 and hasn't looked back since. He married fellow Mata Ortiz potter Graciela Martinez and they have two children. Both he and Graciela produce beautiful polychrome jars, usually decorated with very fine medallion and geometric designs. Goyin also sometimes adds designs based on his interpretations of ancient Mogollon and Aztec designs that he's found while hiking around in the vicinity of his home near Paquimé and Casas Grandes.

Goyin has participated in shows at the Southwest Indian Art Fair in Tucson, the San Diego Museum of Man, the American Indian Arts Marketplace at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, the Woodland Indian Art Show & Market in Green Bay, Wisconsin and the Concurso de Ceramica in Mata Ortiz. Over the years he has won many 1st Place awards for his whiteware and redware pots, usually decorated with multi-color designs.

Goyin tells us his favorite shapes to create are jars and vases and he likes decorating them with geometric designs. As much as he enjoys making his pottery, you'll also often find him preparing for the roping competitions at local rodeos.

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved


Mata Ortiz and Casas Grandes

Paquime macaw pens
The macaw pens at Paquimé

Casas Grandes is both a municipality and an archaeological district in northern Chihuahua State, Mexico. The archaeological district includes the pre-historic ruins of Paquimé, a city that began to build around 1130 AD and was abandoned about 1450 AD. Archaeologists are uncertain as to whether Paquimé was settled by migrants from the Mogollon/Mimbres settlements to the north or by Anasazi elite from the Four Corners region in the United States or by others. Over the years Paquimé was built into a massive complex with structures up to six and seven stories high with multiple Great Houses in the surrounding countryside. Today, the site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mata Ortiz is a small settlement inside the bounds of the Casas Grandes municipality very near the site of Paquimé. The fortunes of the town have gone up and down over the years with a real economic slump happening after the local railroad repair yard was relocated to Nuevo Casas Grandes in the early 1960's. The town was in steady decline until Juan Quezada, a poor farmer who gathered firewood in the area of the archaeological site, was inspired by fragments of ancient Paquimé pottery and even older fragments of Mimbres forms with bold black-on-white designs littering the ground to learn more.

Paquime polychrome effigy pot
Ramos Polychrome effigy pot from Paquimé

Quezada was successful in his quest to learn to recreate the ancient process using slightly more modern techniques (although no one in the present tradition uses a potter's wheel). He learned to use sand and other coarse materials for temper. He discovered that dried cow dung made an excellent and inexpensive firing fuel. Instead of using gourds for smoothing he substituted broken hacksaw blades. Instead of using yucca fiber brushes for painting he learned to make brushes with human hair. He persevered in his efforts and by 1971 had produced a kind of polychrome pottery. Since then, most pottery-making in the area has used innovations in the design and decoration of the pots but the materials and the basic crafting of the process have remained the same.

By the mid-1970's, Quezada had attracted a significant number of traders and his work was becoming a commercial success. That is when he began teaching his techniques to his immediate family. They in turn taught other family members, friends and the younger generations. Both women and men were included from the beginning.

Originally called Casas Grandes pottery in the early years of its production, the potters of this tiny village have made such an impact on the pottery communities, including many awards and special recognition from the Presidents of Mexico, that Mata Ortiz pottery is now becoming known around the world.

Today, pottery production has changed the village in many ways as there is now electricity, plumbing, vehicles and more for the residents. Virtually everyone in the small town (2010 population: 1,182) makes their living by working in some part of the pottery-making process, from potters to clay-gatherers to firewood collectors to traders.

Mata Ortiz pottery incorporates elements of contemporary and prehistoric design and decoration, and each potter or pottery family produces their own distinctive, individualized ware. Young potters from surrounding areas have been attracted to the Mata Ortiz revival and new potting families have developed while the art movement continues to expand. Without the restraints of traditional religious practices or gender constraints, a vibrant flow of new ideas has enabled the pottery of Mata Ortiz to avoid the derivative repetition common to virtually all folk art movements. This blend of economic need, gender equality, cultural expression and artistic freedom has produced a unique artistic movement in today's community.

Mata Ortiz location map

Upper photo is in the public domain
Lower photo is courtesy of David Monniaux, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

Polychromejarwithgeometricdesign, Click or tap to see a larger version
See a larger version

Goyin Silveira, Mata_Ortiz_and_Casas_Grandes, Polychromejarwithgeometricdesign
Goyin Silveira
Mata Ortiz and Casas Grandes
$ 1200
Polychrome jar with geometric design
8 3/4 in H by 7 1/2 in Dia Measurement includes stand
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Goyin Silveira

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

Silveira Family and Teaching Tree

Disclaimer: This "family and teaching tree" is a best effort on our part to determine who the potters are in this grouping and arrange them in a generational order/order of influence. Complicating this for Mata Ortiz is that everyone essentially teaches everyone else (including the neighbors), so it's hard to get a real lineage of family/teaching. The general information available is scant. This diagram is subject to change as we get better info.

    Gregorio Goyo Silveira & Gloria Hernandez
    • Fabiola Silveira
    • Goyin Silveira
    Jose Silveira & Socorro Sandoval
    • Lila Silveira
    • Trinidad Trini Silveira
    Nicolas Silveira & Genoveva Sandoval
    • Armando Silveira & Tomasa Mora
    • Arminda Silveira
    • Octavio Tavo Silveira
    • Silvia Silveira & Tomas Ozuna
    • Veronica Silveira & Sabino Villalba
    Rojelio Silveira
    • Israel Silveira
    • Rafael Silveira

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved