Art, Design, México
Photography by Noel Higareda 

Visit the exhibition by appointment until December 22 at MATERIA STUDIO, located at Serapio Rendon 8 Colonia San Rafael, CDMX. Book appointments here or contact

View the BARRO collection online.

Participating Artists:
Gianfranco Briceño, Brazil
Pablo Arellano, México
Disciplina Studio, México
Lgs Studio, United States
Studio Viv Lee, Scotland
Solem Ceramics, Canada
Carlos Matos, México
Encrudo, México
Jessie Lewis, México
Lisa Dengler, México
Catherine Dix Ceramics, France
Nicholas Bijan Pourfard, United States
Templo, México
Ila Ceramics, México
Santiago Varela, México
Sergio Andres Barba, México
Amate Ceramics, México
Eusebio, México
Ben Peterson, United States
Sacro Barro, México
Eny Lee Parker, United States
Sorosoro Studio, France
Studiolo Intl, Italy
Beril Nur Denli, Turkey
Mylène Escande Céramique, France
Krudo Studio, Costa Rica
Part Time Ceramist, México
Axelle Russo, México

The inaugural ‘BARRO – Clay and Dialogues’ is on display throughout December at MATERIA STUDIO, a new venue and creative studio at the intersection of art, design and culture in Colonia San Rafael, México City.

Barro, meaning clay, explores a vast expression of ceramic art and our intrinsic relationship to clay from the beginning of time. This collaborative exhibition includes over 70 unique ceramic pieces, ranging from traditional artisanship, design and contemporary art. Featuring furniture, lighting, objects, and art from across the globe. MATERIA opens up a dialogue about our universal connection to clay with an international line up including Nick Pourfard, LGS Studio, Krudo Studio, Carlos Matos, Disciplina Studio, Eusebio, Pablo Arellano, Eny Lee Parker, Catherine Dix and Gianfranco Briceño.

Curated by Sarah Len, Founder and Creative Director behind MATERIA STUDIO, as her love letter to ceramic arts. Sarah sat with the 30 participating artists to discuss their relationship to clay and the unexpected life lessons that have come out of their exploration of this earthly material. A powerful teacher in acceptance, as it’s unpredictable nature reveals itself at the meeting of hands and ultimately fire.



MATERIA: How did you begin working with clay?

JESSIE LEWIS: I became interested in ceramics, and other objects, as markers of class and inequality inside the home, and as a means of challenging our performance. I am drawn to ceramics particularly for the way in which it sits in between art and craft; functional and decorative.

ILA CERÁMICA: Starting with ceramics was for me a completely personal process, I found a lot of healing and it helped me to reconnect with my creativity. But as I was able to integrate myself, I was able to deploy more creativity and discover a language that was unknown to me. Since then I have not stopped and it has been a bridge to explore issues that concern me as well as to cultivate skills that have served me as an artist and as a person.

“I remember I was genuinely attempting to reconnect with myself and the world around me. The connection with clay seemed elementary and natural to me although I had no previous experience with that material.” 

– Sorosoro Studio

SOLEM CERAMICS: I quickly realized that being on the wheel was pretty much the only time I could stop thinking, and I decided, this is exactly what I need– to create a new type of relationship between the body and mind.

SOROSORO STUDIO: Randomly, during recovery from a burn out. I remember I was genuinely attempting to reconnect with myself and the world around me. The connection with clay seemed elementary and natural to me although I had no previous experience with that material.

MATERIA: What makes clay attractive in your opinion?

SOLEM CERAMICS: Clay is a multidimensional mirror. It is affectionate, intuitive, communicative and confrontational. It directly reflects your state of being. It can be forgiving but it can also refuse to work with you. It forces an understanding of the collaboration between all four elements. I am attracted to the way clay demands commitment and mindfulness.

STUDIO VIV LEE: It’s a humble material that offers such diverse expressive potential and a very direct, tactile and grounding experience to the earth.

ILA CERÁMICA: It’s a trade that you never quite master. While you can have many technical considerations, it always involves challenges and is an endless universe: the potter’s wheel, hand building, primitive firings, high temperature firings… In short, each of these niches is a craft in itself.

NICHOLAS BIJAN POURFARD: Clay allows you to feel very free as an additive process. You can have less intention with some of your ideas, which allows you to access other areas of your creative mind, you may not have found with other materials or processes.

STUDIOLO INTL’L: Clay is a natural material that fascinates us precisely for its ‘infinite’ life cycle, the fact of working with this material used historically since the beginning of the social and cultural history of humans, and therefore this gives us a strong feeling of continuity. In a way, this relationship transports us in a historical dimension, but also at the same time contemporary and for the future.

“Clay is a natural material that fascinates us precisely for its ‘infinite’ life cycle, the fact of working with this material used historically since the beginning of the social and cultural history of human, and therefore this gives us a strong feeling of continuity.”

Studiolo Int’l




LGS STUDIO: It has this ability to get pushed, pulled, forced and carved into what we envision. At the same time there is always this moment of mystery when you open the kiln.

ENY LEE PARKER: The harmony between controlling it and not having control at the end.

GIANFRANCO BRICEÑO: That’s a question of ancestry, I always think about the power I have in my hands coming from my Peruvian origins to create objects from clay and fire

KRUDO STUDIO: It grants materiality to the intangibility of emotions. It is precisely its emotional and reparative qualities which I believe have made clay gain so much popularity in recent years, as well as the fact that it is an extremely forgiving and approachable material, if not to say democratic.

PABLO ARELLANO: I love the fact that it is a material that can be worked directly with the hands and as long as clay hasn’t been fired, it can be endlessly recycled which breaks a lot of barriers in terms of waste.

ENCRUDO: For me clay is an infinite material and that is why I fell in love with it. There are endless ways to work with it. Creating and expressing my point of view and how I see the world through my pieces has been the most beautiful thing that has happened to me.

MATERIA: What is your intention behind your work?

BERIL NUR DENLI: When I have ideas or problems in my mind, my hands start working and communicate through the clay, which is a pretty instinctually process.  

LGS STUDIO: To stand the test of time. We spend a lot of time thinking about how our work will be viewed in the future, what are we leaving behind on this earth? Will it be of cultural value for future generations? Will it be engaged with in a meaningful way?

SOLEM CERAMICS: To convey a sense of preservation of time. As an individual living in the SWANA diaspora, a piece of me has always been living in my past since being uprooted from my home in Saudi Arabia. I continually recreate textures, colors and shapes that are reminiscent of my environment back home. Surrounding myself with these nostalgic sensory characteristics of my childhood has not only made me feel closer to my ancestors, but has also helped me find peace in the yearning to return- which has granted me the ability to revisit timelines, bridge the gap between myself and the essence of “home”- and exist in multiple places at once. 

GIANFRANCO BRICEÑO: Ceramics is an extension of the work I have with photography, which explores the issues of the male figure and homoeroticism.

KRUDO STUDIO: Simultaneously, I follow my own weight and tensions through words or feelings that are important in that given moment in time. I repeat them to myself throughout the making process, almost like a mantra. Hence intention in my work is not something fixed because it is very much intertwined with process, but ultimately I like to transmit a sense of comfort with a pinch of disorientation. Comfortably disoriented to be precise. 

AMATE: Transcend, conservation and revaluation of the potters’ cultural heritage and national and regional clay materials.

AXELLE RUSSO: Aesthetically and structurally my pieces are inspired by life. They are built like permeable membranes and organisms about to come alive. I explore borders and in-between spaces. Through the choice of materials I seek to understand and combine different lexical fields.

DISCIPLINA STUDIO: Combine traditional craft techniques with contemporary formats and visions.






MATERIA: What surprises have you discovered in your process?

SANTIAGO VARELA: I think that surprises are one of the most common in this craft, but one of the things that has surprised me the most is the adaptation that clay has in different circumstances, from the shine that you can generate with burnishing, the satin surfaces using sigillatas and the vitrification of its body at high temperature. I think that the time to admire the clay in each of its moments is one of the most beautiful things I have discovered in my process.

NEWERTOPOGRAPHICS: Less is more, more or less….

ENY LEE PARKER: I learned to be better about letting go of things, when things break, it’s easier for me to move on.

EUSEBIO: When a piece breaks before its first firing, I sew the parts separately and try to join them in the second firing with glazes, similar to a kintsugi but still with the piece raw

LGS STUDIO: When you accidentally mix the wrong glazes and get something spectacular and unexpected.

LISA DENGLER: Breaking pieces and then gluing them together again to give the element of it having lived a life.

PABLO ARELLANO: The biggest lesson is that it is impossible to rush clay and to fully control the process, which is a fertile ground for the unexpected.

MYLENE ESCANDE: I discovered that clay has its own desires and that you have to let it express itself.


MATERIA: What relationship do your ancestors have to clay?

STUDIO VIV LEE: I feel a powerful connection to our ancient ancestors from prehistory who were deeply connected to this material as it played an integral part of their life and rituals.

NICHOLAS BIJAN POURFARD: I am Persian and almost all of my family lives in iran. Like many other parts of the world, ceramics have much history in Iran and ancient Persia. I specifically feel more connected to clay as a tie to the earth rather than my culture, however I do feel there are ways to connect to both in future learning and creation.

SOLEM CERAMICS: I am half Filipina and half Syrian. Clay plays an integral part of survival in both regions and many of the traditional vessel forms are still used today for dining and burial rituals. In the middle east, ceramics were mainly decorative with intricate use of lustres and islamic design. In the Philippines, vessels were specifically made for different functions such as holding meat, alcohol, water, or ashes of the dead- and if there were any decorative elements to the vessels, they usually denoted some sort of pre-colonial religious figures.

GIANFRANCO BRICEÑO: Since when I was a child I went to many museums in Peru to get to know the pre-Inca and Incan cultures. Ceramics was an essential activity for these cultures to express themselves and transport their food, so I grew up with that in my mind and managed to bring it into my life now that I’m in my artistic development as an adult.

SOROSORO STUDIO: My work is mainly influenced by the weaving techniques used by my grandmother as well as the meticulous work of my great grandfather who was a renowned goldsmith in morocco in the 19th century.

PABLO ARELLANO: Ceramic traditions throughout Mexico are always full of inspiration. I have a huge respect for craft and artisanal work, and I think it’s important that those traditions are nurtured and kept alive, because they are also closely linked to the identity of many communities.

RAMIRO GONZALEZ LUNA: This question has got me thinking, and even though at first I couldn’t find a relationship, I have been thinking recently of some ceramic fruits my grandmother had and how I used to play with them as a kid. I was always warned about the fragility of this material and therefore I cherished these clay figures even more. I think that was the first real approach with ceramics I ever encountered.

SOROSORO STUDIO: My work is mainly influenced by the weaving techniques used by my grandmother as well as the meticulous work of my great grandfather who was a renowned goldsmith in Morocco in the 19th century.

PABLO ARELLANO: Ceramic traditions throughout Mexico are always full of inspiration. I have a huge respect for craft and artisanal work, and I think it’s important that those traditions are nurtured and kept alive, because they are also closely linked to the identity of many communities.

MATERIA: What are some of your favorite ways we have related to clay throughout history in myth, folklore and tradition?

ILA CERÁMICA: The bowl is the beginning of the whole human journey: food, water…fire… The vessel seems to me to be a great metaphor for the womb and fertility. That is also why the development of myth through clay figurines fascinates me, because it seems to me that they are the initial attempts of human beings to materialize archetypes and to create external objects that reflect natural or spiritual processes. I think that in these times our relationship with objects was much more sacred and that gave us a deep meaning in everyday life, and clay made much of this possible.



STUDIOLO INT’L: We are attracted to two very different paths, one that is more instinctive and expressive, and the other more meticulous and “calculated”. Therefore, we are very attentive to the tools we are working with but we also often find personal solutions.

SOLEM CERAMICS: In Greek mythology, prometheus’ main task is to sculpt humans out of clay. There is an intuitive quality to working with clay, but theories of the genesis of life itself having a direct relationship with the material only deepens my respect towards it.

NICHOLAS BIJAN POURFARD: I love that pottery and dinnerware has been used as a way of telling stories and artistic expression in so many parts of the world at so many different moments in time.

SANTIAGO VARELA: I believe in rituals, where the clay object is the piece that defines the smells, tastes and sensations. For example a cup of coffee can be in many ways but everyone has their favorite cup and performs their ritual of drinking coffee in that cup, or in some culinary issues where you crave a certain dish in a certain type of dish.

SACROBARRO: As natives of Guadalajara, we like to relate our personal interest in clays to the region in which we grew up, that is, the region is totally potter and producer and that plays an important role in those of us who are aware of the objects of daily use that we have at home.

KRUDO STUDIO: I have always had a tense relationship with firing, I just had never thought to question it until recently. I always opened my kiln with a mix of anxiety and sadness as I felt life had been sucked out of the pieces. What I do admit is true about firing is that clay undergoes an incredible process of transformation, a sort of metamorphosis that grants clay the ability to transform into a permanent state, to vitrify and hold its body throughout time.

MATERIA: Describe the relationship between clay and fire?

CATHERINE DIX: A brutal and passionate encounter, a confrontation, a powerful and beautiful dialogue.

SANTIAGO VARELA: I think it is the most important relationship that clay has, it is a relationship of passion in which these two elements interact, sometimes in passive ways and sometimes in wild ways, but always the action of one alters the other.

SOLEM CERAMICS: If we discuss earth and fire, we must also include water and air as key elements that precede fire. Earth and the water within the clay are the materials. Water is the primary guide- it is the mobilizer. Without water, we would not be able to move the clay. Air is then the first consolidator. The clay must be dried once water is no longer needed to form. Without air, fire would destroy the clay. Fire is the final consolidator. It extracts the final traces of air and moisture and brings it to its final form after undergoing a series of major physical and chemical reactions. All four elements must work together in timing and harmony in order to bring clay from its soluble state into its vitreous, enduring form that is ceramic.

SERGIO BARBA: The burning emerges as the ritual of passage between what is recognized as significant and the inevitable ruin that clings to its own solidity as a last resort. Memory and oblivion then appear as flashes of creation and destruction.

TEMPLO: These two elements are the perfect match. They need the other.


A special thank you to Jose Cuervo and 1800 Tequila Mexico for making this exhibition possible.