Multi-award winning artist Enedina Seferina Vasquez Cruz recalls playing with clay at four years old while her parents, Delfina Cruz Díaz, a potter, and Ernesto Vásquez Reyes, a master of the pastillage technique, labored in their family workshop in Santa Maria Atzompa, Oaxaca. She has carried on the family tradition of working with clay, but in addition to what she learned from her loved ones, she has pursued investigations into forgotten mineral slip recipes used by her ancestors. Inspired by the colors she saw applied to ancient ceramics from archeological sites, and through a process of trial and error, she has recovered a palette of 80 extinct slip colors.
Enedina’s sculptures are small but complex, replete with imagery derived from her indigenous Zapotec heritage. Like her father, she has mastered the skill of pastillage – ornamentation of clay sculptures and vessels through the surface-application of separately-modeled adornments. Her subjects include traditional Hispanic Catholic motifs such as the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Virgin of Solitude, nativity scenes, sacred hearts, and crosses, as well as small sculptures of farm animals, tiny cooking implements, and traditional Mexican Tehuana dolls. They burst with clusters of stars, roses, lilies, and sunflowers, rendered in ancient earthen colors that harken back to Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past.