Teodora Blanco (deceased in 1980), was a renowned artist whose tradition is carried out today in the work of her brother, two of her daughters and her son – and several of their children (Teodora’s grandchildren. Teodora became famous in her own lifetime for introducing a new style: highly imaginative “muñecas” (human doll-like figures), on which many variations have developed. Teodora’s signature pieces are fantastic and allegorical human-like figures bearing animal heads or horns, frogs and/or nursing children. She also pioneered a type of decoration called “pastillaje,” superimposed smaller pieces of clay on the surface of the figure to create patterns or to add elements to the original form. Teodora’s influence extends well beyond the boundaries of her family. Elements of her style were incorporated by many of her contemporaries, and continue to appear in the ceramics of subsequent generations.
Luis García Blanco (son of Teodora)
Luis lovingly perpetuates his mother’s tradition of terra cotta figures combining human and animal features. At the entry to his courtyard stands an impressive figure — a human body and animal head nursing an animal, and wearing a skirt covered with “pastillaje,” from which small animals, such as frogs, are suspended. The family’s special works are nativity scenes, mermaids and figures for contests, each “carrying a moment of our life.” Luis believes that he both conserves his mother’s style and adds his own type of faces. His wife, María Rojas de García, with whom he works closely, was also taught by his mother but has similarly introduced her own ideas.
Irma García Blanco (daughter of Teodora)
Irma, a shy but warm, expressive woman, continues to work in her mother’s tradition. Especially known for her large, majestic “muñecas” – pieces for which her mother was famous as well — Irma also creates altars with crucifixes, angels, virgins bearing angels, nativity scenes, and mermaids. Two other specialties are fountains and Tule trees (based on the gigantic tree for which the pueblo of Santa María El Tule, close to and due east of the city of Oaxaca, is famous). These are decorated with elements from the seven regions of Oaxaca. Irma’s children carry on the family tradition as well. She feels that it is only in watching the process of creation that people can appreciate the beauty of the work, and the fact that it is done entirely by hand.
Alicia Leticia García Blanco (daughter of Teodora)
Alicia Leticia (Lety) specializes in small, imaginative, and well-crafted “pastillaje” and/or engraved figures, most especially mermaids. She also creates women at market, angels with candlesticks, figures riding burros, and nativity and procession scenes. Lety deeply hopes that the children of Santa María Atzompa do not fail to learn and perpetuate the tradition of their pueblo: ceramics. She fears that increasingly many do not cherish their ancestors’ life work as artisans. Her son (immediately below) is a rising star in ceramics.
Fernando Félix Pegüero García (son of Alicia Leticia and grandson of Teodora Blanco Nuñez)
Fernando Felix, an extremely talented young man in his early 20s, specializes in work incorporating themes of the Day of the Dead. His outstanding abilities are gaining rapid recognition. In 2010, he was awarded 1st prize award in miniatures in a national ceramics contest, and in 2009 he won 1st prize award in ceramics in FOFA’s initial young artists’ competition based on his stupendous 30-piece scene entitled “The Wedding of the Catrina and the Cowboy.” It is meant to enable us to imagine happiness in the after-life, a place where social class does not exist, and the dream of marriage between rich and poor can be a reality.
Faustino Avelino Blanco Núñez (brother of Teodora)
Faustino Avelino Blanco Nuñez (he prefers to be called Avelino) works with his two daughters and son to produce a large variety of ceramic pieces in terra cotta, green glaze, and multi-color glaze. In cheerful and prideful collaboration, their work ranges from the purely decorative – musician miniatures and muñecas – to the utilitarian: jugs, planters, small plates, salsa holders, and cups. All are decorated 2with “pastillaje” flowers and leaves. Avelino’s miniature musicians are especially lively, inspired by his thirty-two years as a guitarist in a band.