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Nayeli Vasquez

"What I enjoy the most is being able to express many things. I can make something unique and convey everything I want to say without words, through clay."

"I am a woman with hope, dreams and plans. I think and think about things twice. I contextualize and de-contextualize to... describe who I am and I always sum it up in two words: simple and hardworking.

"I'm very sensitive and love to smile. I'm always smiling because I believe that smiles are a state of the soul.

"I was born in Oaxaca and am one of six children. It was difficult for my parents to give us a good education, but they taught us how to work with clay. Since I was young, I've had to work and sell my ceramics to pay for school. As I look back, I understand that this made me practice my craft and develop my ability. Now, my figurines have even won awards at the state and national level.

"In 2006, I won the first place in a state-sponsored contest for a miniature nativity scene that measured only two centimeters. It was the first contest I'd participated in, and winning motivated me to keep on working and competing.

β€œIn Mexico City, I participated in a Mexican nativity contest and then another in Oaxaca, also with a miniature nativity scene.

"I love creating miniatures because they're detailed and require more time, but I enjoy making them. Now, I teach my children this beautiful craft so it isn't lost and will continue on from generation to generation, just as I learned.

"Practice, practice and practice is the only way to gain mastery. I have to do and undo because, as my father said, 'If it doesn't come out the way you want, undo it and try again.' Practice makes perfect because this work is more hands on than theoretical. In the end, our work is what recommends us.

"I currently have a workshop where I craft clay figurines. I enjoy showing my work and it makes me smile. I'm always creating new designs and try to preserve the Mexican traditions that make up my history.

"Artists and artisans work with the deepest part of our existence β€” feelings. I love that my work recognizes and expresses women's strength. I think women have the fortitude to accomplish many things. For example, I'm a mother and homemaker. I go everywhere and refuse to let adversity hold me back.

"I believe that not remaining static is the most revolutionary way we can empower ourselves as women.

"When people buy one of my figurines, without my telling them what it represents, they begin imagining its meaning out loud. They share all kinds of ideas, then look to me to confirm their thoughts. I listen to and agree because this is what life is like β€” things are shaped and transformed depending on who sees, experiences and touches them.

"I've always enjoyed creating elaborate pieces and familiar shapes with novel textures. I prefer carving out clay instead of building up the forms, and often scratch or cut the surfaces to create texture. Sometimes, I like to add colors to the red clay.

"What I enjoy the most is being able to express many things. I can make something unique and convey everything I want to say without words, through clay. It helps me create a new way to communicate.

"We buy our clay from people in a neighboring town and then prepare it ourselves. All of my figurines are crafted by hand from start to finish. I use clay, colored earth, a thorn, jar lids, used pens and even stones. "
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