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Master potters visit with students

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arts and entertainment New Richmond, 54017

New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Eli Navarrete and Viki Hernandez, a husband and wife team of master potters from Mata Ortiz, Mexico, visited New Richmond High School on Monday, Oct. 29, and Tuesday, Oct. 30.

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The two potters visited as part of a program hosted by Mark Lusardi, a local artist. Lusardi said he tries to bring visiting artists to the area at least once each year. Along with the visits at New Richmond High School, the potters also host workshops at Lusardi's studio near Bass Lake.

Mata Oritz is known for the thin-walled pottery created with the clay found in that region. The pottery movement started in the 1960s when Juan Quezada recreated the pottery techniques of the Paquime Indians that lived in the area more than 800 years ago.

Quezada's work revived the local economy and inspired new potters to take up the artform.

Navarrete, who used to work as an electrical engineer in Chihuahua, spent his Monday in Bridget Haugen's art room, sharing his craft with the local students. He is known as one of the finest second generation potters in Mata Ortiz. Featured in the book, "The Many Faces of Mata Ortiz," his work, according to the book's authors, "is nothing short of brilliant."

Navarrete's work is often described as "M.C. Escher-like" because of the design and interlocking animals that appear, along with the black background on his pieces (created by rubbing a graphite mixture over the pot and then polishing).

Hernandez, Navarrete's wife, was trained by Navarrete. She spent much of her Monday demonstrating her craft for the school's Spanish students.

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