Alberto Bautista Gómez
Amatenango del Valle, a Tzeltal community in Chiapas, fuses clay and religion seamlessly. Humankind, born from the hands of God, with clay and water, has come to glory and deemed themselves worthy of creation as well, amassing tigers, jugs, pots, doves, and countless others born in the hands that knead life and unrivaled beauty.
Alberto learned the trade from his grandmother when he was just 15 years old. Pots and flowerpots were some of his first finished pieces. Until, Alberto’s generation Amatenango knew only smooth pots with painted decorations, but his generation brought 3-Dimensional figurines and appliquéd designs.
For materials, Alberto buys masses of clay before rainy season-March until May in Madronal, transporting everything back in sacks. Bash stones are acquired in Tulancá. Back at home, Alberto spreads clay in the courtyard of his house to dry in the sun. It is then grinded with a wooden mallet, and sieved several times. Water is added, allowed to soak thoroughly, then sand is added creating a paste with very low viscosity.
He shaped most creations by hand, with the occasional mold. For larger pieces, such as his infamous tiger, it is created in pieces and is later burnished together to eliminate any seams. They are fired on the ground in a makeshift pyre. Once cool, decorative paint- achiote finished the pieces off.