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Isabelle Collins | Arte Ventosa

La Vera Ceramica Talavera

Mexican ceramicist Dr. Isabelle Collins once said, “I love art, but I cannot eat out of my painting. [With pottery] you can showcase it, but you can also use it.” This encapsulates Collins’ desire to make artwork that is as beautiful as it is utilitarian.

Talavera-style pottery is most commonly associated with Mexico, and for good reason. Collins has a unique spin on Talavera, hand-crafting maiolica poblana pottery in a manner that both honors tradition and uses innovative elements to propel the artform forward. Born and raised in Mexico’s inland, southern municipality of Puebla, Collins lectures frequently about the history and tradition of Talavera and Maiolica ceramics, styles first introduced to Mexico in the 1500s. Along with the organization Arte Ventosa, Collins seeks to educate people about the fascinating tradition of these centuries-old functional art pieces.

Collins makes almost everything by hand, from crafting clay for the vessels, plates, and other wares she creates, to smelting assorted metals for the pottery’s distinctively shiny glazed surfaces, to even making brushes herself, with horse or mule hair tips. Collins’ inspiration comes from historical motifs, which might include Moroccan or Chinese artistry, to name just a couple. She also gathers creative ideas from murals and tiles she sees in her hometown.