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THE STORY BEHIND THE PRODUCT
Artisan Organization: Jesus Rivas
"I was born in Peru's northern province of Piura. I'm a hardworking man, responsible and innovative. I'm always looking for new ways to give free rein to my imagination so I can apply these ideas in my art.
"From childhood on, I was always involved in any kind of artistic activity in school, such as dance and theater, I even formed a group we called the 'Laughter Squad' with friends who enjoyed stand-up comedy. We were famous in our village and we were even on a local TV channel. I was really young and I didn't have the slightest idea of what I'd do with my life. I just had fun making people laugh.
"When I was 17, a friend of mine worked in a Chulucanas ceramic workshop. I'd go there with him and help out for a few coins. I'd burnish the unfired pieces. I was only 16. I was young but I was very active and nothing stopped me. I've always worked.
"When I first began working, I always wanted a project of my own, to be my own boss. For a few years, I worked in a small grocery store but it definitely wasn't mine. However, it offered the opportunity to save some money and work toward achieving my dreams although, at the time, I wanted to become a police officer. I worked very hard to make as much money as possible.
"Then one day in 1991, I met a beautiful woman and fell in love with her. We married in 1992 and now have three children.
"When I found out I was going to be a father, things took a 360 degree turn. My ideas weren't clear yet but I knew that, as a father, I'd need to think more carefully. I knew I'd need to work soon at something of my own to provide well for my family.
"I remembered all the courses I took to learn ceramics. I understood a part of the process but not all of it. I consulted some artisans I knew but they didn't want to share their knowledge with me. I began researching and investigating on my own and am self taught in every sense of the word. I learned, I worked and saved money until I was able to craft my own tools.
"At first, my vases and sculptures didn't come out the way I'd hoped. I practiced a lot. I got clay and, with some simple tools and a blade, I began shaping some small samples. My wife polished the pieces to a sheen and made them look spectacular. I could see she always wanted to help me. She's my motivation to continue with this art I love. So I persevered and finished preparing a small lot of vases to show and sell in the neighborhood. This is how I got my start in this magical world of handicrafts and what could be better than to represent my home town, Chulucanas?
"Chulucanas, also known as Peru's Lemon Capital, is famous for its ceramics. It is located in the Department of Piura.
"Our ceramics have deep cultural roots that derive from the pre-Hispanic Tallan and Vicus cultures that arose in northern Peru around 500 A.D. The Vicus culture developed only a few miles from the city of Chulucanas.
"Some years ago, I went to a craft fair in Lima to show and sell my ceramics. I was staying in a hotel there when I had an accident. I slipped and fell in a bad position but I felt okay. A year later, I began feeling pain in my hips and couldn't even stand up. I saw a number of doctors and they told me the fall had cracked part of the bone and this resulted in complications. It was a really hard fall and I needed physical therapy and walked with great difficulty. Even so, I never stopped crafting my ceramics with the help of my wife and family.
"My family remains my greatest inspiration and we are growing together, facing new challenges with every obstacle along the way. I find motivation in my wife's strength, her energy. They are contagious. I'm also motivated by our wonderful son and two beautiful daughters who have made me their father. I live with gratitude to life and to God.
"One of my dreams is to expand my workshop and be able to export my ceramics. I want to have the capacity to continue innovating and to share all of this with my family. Together, we can represent Peruvian art to the world.""