THE AGUILAR FAMILY (Ocotlán de Morelos)

Isaura Alcántara Diaz & Jesús Aguilar Revilla

Isaura Alcántara Díaz, (who died in 1969 at the early age of 44) was the innovator – in collaboration with her husband, Jesús Aguilar Revilla — of an important and delightful genre of ceramics.  He sketched and painted, often creating new designs, some of which Isaura carried out. Departing from the utilitarian objects produced by their contemporaries in Ocotlán de Morelos, they introduced decorative human figures.  These imaginatively captured the daily activities, passionate expressiveness and cultural richness of pueblo life.  Her highly detailed, colorfully painted human figures embodied its vitality, depth of emotion and pulse.  Women in indigenous garb were portrayed in every aspect of life: transporting their wares and possessions, displaying and selling their produce in the market, nursing their babies, arranging their flowers, attending funerals and weddings, praying, sitting on park benches with their “enamorados” (romantic loved ones), and celebrating fiestas. Isaura and her husband had a profound influence on the creative lives of four of their daughters, Guillermina, Josefina, Irene and Concepción (from eldest to youngest), who in turn inspired their own children and grandchildren.


 

Guillermina Aguilar Alcántara (daughter of Isaura and Jesús)

Guillermina Aguilar Alcántara is an extremely warm, spirited and pious woman. Inspired by her fertile imagination, her ceramic repertoire includes female figures (large, medium and small) in highly detailed costumes, down to their dangling earrings. They engage in every facet of daily life, such as selling and carrying their wares and nursing babies.  She also creates stunning trees of life standing nearly a yard high, and whimsical water jugs and bells with animal heads. Guillermina clearly adores each figure she creates, caressing it as if alive. She regards the faces of her pieces, which are especially expressive, as her greatest contribution.


 

 

Josefina Aguilar Alcántara (daughter of Isaura and Jesús)

Josefina, a dedicated artist, is deeply involved in her outstanding work as a ceramist in her mother and father’s tradition. She creates “muñecas,” human figures of both female and male gender, in a vast array of activities, venues and costumes.  She considers her specialties, either in their details or their entirety, to include headdresses, mermaids, crosses, “women of the night,” the Last Supper and “zocalo” scenes (people seated on benches in the town square).  Recently she has added male lovers. These can be collected as individual figures or as remarkable assemblages to create scenes, such as a wedding, a funereal procession or a park. Josefina regards the faces, and especially the noses, of her figures as her trademark.


 

 

Irene Aguilar Alcántara (daughter of Isaura and Jesús)

As you step into Irene’s home and studio, her vivacious and imaginative spirit is immediately palpable, as is the broad range of her work. She is known for her individual pieces such as musicians, devils, monks,”women of the night,” “catrinas,” (elegantly dressed female figures for Day of the Dead) and “fruteros” (fruit bowls) on the lips of which sit an array of figures including lovers, the Three Kings, or “muertos” (skeletal figures engaged in human activities). In addition, she creates spectacular sculptural works, such as complex market scenes and an earth mother melded with foliage.

 

Concepción Aguilar Alcántara (daughter of Isaura and Jesús)

Concepción and her husband Jorge Sánchez Ruiz sit side by side pensively creating their own individual pieces.  She shapes a graceful female figure as he completes a nativity scene situated beneath a vast gnarled tree. She takes special pride in the great detail of her pieces, finding inspiration for her work in nature.  She looks at pictures, but never copies them, filtering them instead through her imagination.  In one of her pieces, brilliantly painted butterflies and delicately textured rocks are suspended from a vibrant cactus. Concepción is also recognized for her Noah’s arks and her elegant and expressive “Fridas” (figures based on Frida Kahlo).


 

 

Lorenzo Demetrio García Aguilar (son of Josefina and grandson of Isaura and Jesús)

With extraordinary painterly and sculptural talent, Demetrio (the name he prefers) creates a fantastic blend of his mother’s tradition with his own unique style.  His sensitive, rather quiet manner masks his artistic power.  Demetrio’s pieces, both “muñecas” (human figures) and plaques, are deeply personal interpretations of religious, cultural and family themes. These include the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the good and bad (angelical and diabolical) sides of a person, scenes of the Day of the Dead, and a portrait of his mother in her creative, maternal and farming roles.  Demetrio considers his Frida Kahlo and skeleton pieces bearing diverse emotions (such as happiness and sadness) to be his special designs. Although his wife sometimes paints small portions of his figural pieces, Demetrio generally carries out his work by himself.  This is always true of his plaques. He also loves to paint, an artform he regards as complementary to his ceramic creations.


 

José Francisco García Vásquez (Demetrio’s son and Josefina’s grandson)

Awarded honorable mention in ceramics in FOFA’s 2008 young artists competition, José proudly continues the artistic tradition of his father and grandmother, master ceramicists. He wishes to contribute to the preservation of popular art. In each of his pieces, José communicates a message of alarm about the problems that the world must confront. His powerful contest entry, “Famine,” is no exception, as it conveys the terrible consequences of hunger as a baby lays dead in its mother’s arms.

 

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