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Anakarem

Artisan Organization: Anakarem

Country: Mexico

"Black pottery was my father's art, which is how I got my start. But it has always attracted me — working in ceramics relaxes me and it's like a kind of therapy through which I express the good and bad situations in my daily life. Black pottery is an art form and when someone recognizes my good work, this is the greatest satisfaction one can have. It's the reason I strive each day to become a better artisan, the best at what I do.

"I'm Anakarem López González. I was born in Oaxaca on April 27, 1989. I'm a responsible person, dedicated to crafting quality ceramics.

"Fortunately, I've never had to work alone. My family has always been there for me and we work as a team. Each one of us has a specific activity. One person shapes the pieces, another engraves or creates the cutout motifs, and another polishes them. When it's time to fire up the kiln, we all work together.

"I usually create new designs, which is what I enjoy most — giving form to the images in my imagination. When a new design comes to life, I'm happy with its quality and beauty.

"We use materials from our village. In fact, all we have to do is dig the clay and bring it home. The most challenging part is crafting large scale ceramic pieces, as the climate here doesn't help much.

"A few years ago, we had some tough times here in Oaxaca. There was a teachers' strike that took over the plaza and blocked the streets. This affected local merchants, especially the artisans. Our sales dropped and we had to struggle to overcome the situation and continue selling our handicrafts.

"We began showing our work in other parts of Mexico to be able to support our families. But this has also been a wonderful way to make people aware of our work and to attract tourists to our town so they can get to know our artisans and our crafts. This is good for the local economy and everyone wins.

"My greatest dream is to establish my designs as some of the best in the nation and the world. I also hope to be recognized for the quality of my work. I'm sure I can achieve this one day, thanks to all that my father has taught me. His name is José López Aragón and he showed us that we should never lose hope but always continue trying. He's been a wonderful teacher."

The young artisan second place in Mexico's prestigious 2012 Premio Nacional de la Ceramica."