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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Carlomagno Pedro Martinez: Storyteller in Ceramics

Tourist art is often great stuff, but it can also be insipid. When the phrases “crafts,” “folk art,” “popular art” (all of which can be tourist art) come up, the image that might spring to mind is of cheerful, colorful, rough depictions of non-threatening local salt-of-the-earth stories. It is, after all, all about the sale.


Carlomagno Pedro Martínez, director of MEAPO,

the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular de Oaxaca

in San Bartolo Coyotepec,  a museum dedicated

to the handcrafts of the state of Oaxaca.



Any art, in any genre, has layers of history embedded, intentional or not. The ceramic art of Carlomagno Pedro Martínez has layers upon layers of his own and his country’s histories. 

Like his family before him, he uses the local clay of San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, a Zapotec town, which has a ceramics tradition that dates back to the pre-Hispanic period. The barro negro process produces polished black pottery.  It is dramatic and soulful. 

His story telling has a touch of humor, a sense of mystery, national pride, and love for his people added in.

An artist truly steeped in the traditions of his craft can work outside the box to create new things, even within traditional guidelines. Here, the familiar characters of fiestas and holidays work well with the heros of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Historic symbols and icons play their parts, as do family, friends, neighbors and pets. Old legends and myths are brought into focus along with celebrities of our day.


The work of this singular artist is miles away from ceramics produced “for the market”. He is modern in the stark reality that he shows us and traditional in his expertise and sure hand. The combination marries the best of both worlds and produces a whole new thing. Thank you for bringing us this new way of thinking about figurative ceramics!

Artist/Activist Vicky Hamlin is a retired tradeswoman, shop steward, and painter. In her painting and in this column, she shines the light on the lives of working people and the world they live in.