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FEATURE ARTIST - Ocumicho Ceramics: Adelida Pascual

Updated: Nov 24, 2023


Born in Ocumicho, Michoacan on December 3, 1986, Adelida grew up playing with clay, but began producing serious pieces for art markets and competitions when she was 15 years old. As the daughter of well-known Ocumicho sculptor, Tomasa Gonzales, Adelida comes from a long line of artisans, has mastered techniques, and enjoys the patience necessary for completing high quality work. She has won several competitions, and creates small and large scale pieces.



I first met Adelida Pascual after hours spent at the home of Tomasa Gonzales, looking through thousands of pieces in her studio. I was desperately seeking Christmas Ornaments for my online gallery, and Tomasa had none in stock. She signaled me to follow her down the hill and around the corner, where she introduced me to her daughter. Adelida welcomed me to her home, and we spent about an hour looking through her fantastic collection, which included nativity scenes, angel sculptures and plenty of large-scale and very whimsical pieces.


The Mexican sense of humor is evidenced in many alburs, which can border on rude to offensive, depending on how seriously one takes life, and the artwork of Ocumicho is no exception. Pictured here, we have a couple with a Chili Pepper plant. One well-known albur in Mexico makes reference to chili's representing male sex organs - which gives a humorous spin on this scene! I collected this piece in October 2021 on my second visit to Adelida Pascual's home.


Undoubtedly the most controversial and potentially confrontational piece I have collected to date, was this nativity of Devils! Each piece is a whistle, with all, including the baby, celebrating the Devil. Ocumicho is known for their devil sculptures, or Diablitos, and while this piece certainly raises some eyebrows, it also attracts a lot of laughs. Also important to note is that Adelida Pascual is a devout Christian, like most of the residents of the conservative village of Ocumicho.



A BRIEF HISTORY OF CERAMICS IN OCUMICHO

The fantastical, whimsical creativity of artists from the small, isolated village of Ocumicho, Michoacan Mexico is enchanting and comical. Far from the innocent and popular depictions of The Last Supper and Christmas Nativity scenes, Marcelino Vicente was a P'urepecha artist who made the devil an iconic feature of the Ocumicho style. Prior to his ceramic creations, it was only the women in Ocumicho who made pottery, small whistles and figurines in the form of animals. Sadly, Vicente's five year career was cut short when he was murdered in 1968 at the young age of 35. Many believe he was murdered for being gay, and though villagers continued to speak of his lifestyle as taboo, his devils became a central feature of the supernatural artworks of Ocumicho. Watch for devils riding motorcycles, driving VW buses, dancing with humans, or other devils. Some depictions of The Last Supper have featured all guests as devils. It is fascinating that such a conservative community embraced religious allegories by featuring the devil, but as Vicente was the first artist to have major art shows in Mexico City and New York City, it's possible that his success was behind this.

Today, these mischievous, colorful and playful pieces attract collectors from all over the world. Our only word of caution, is that these figurines and pieces are very fragile, as they are made using pre-Hispanic techniques and are fired in the ground. If you are interested in purchasing pieces from Ocumicho, please contact us about our collection. We have shipped several pieces to date, and due to great care taken with the packaging, all have arrived in perfect condition.



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