ENCUENTROS/ENCOUNTERS is a multi-media exhibition that showcases the results of three months of cultural exchanges fostered by Windgate Artists-in-Residence Dignicraft. During the fall of 2014, the collective North Carolina and established relationships with artists, collectors, business leaders, and native Mexicans living in the region. Their encounters resulted in collaborative art pieces and activities that explore the possibilities of traditional pottery as a tool for communication, exchange, and an instigator of imagination.

Dignicraft is a collective of media producers (Omar Foglio, Jose luis Figueroa, and Paola Rodriguez) and master artisans (Herlinda Morales, Angélica Morales, Inés Neal, and Juan Manuel Rosas Martinez) who share a common mission to bring awareness to the rich Purépecha pottery tradition in Mexico and the considerable measures being taken to educate the native artisans to eliminate toxic lead-based glazes from their practice. Through demonstrations of new sustainable glazes and techniques, Dignicraft aims to develop solutions that result in healthier conditions for those who are effectively suffering from a byproduct of their own livelihood. The sale of all goods from Dignicraft go to support these important initiatives and McColl Center for Art + Innovation programs.

While in residence at McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Dignicraft conducted workshops with local artists, fed dozens of guests to their studio home-cooked Mexican meals, shared stories, and sold works from their studio. They also traveled to Purépecha communities in the Piedmont and Mountain regions of North Carolina, allowing the collective to expand their network of support and share practices in our state’s Craft-rich region. Along the way, they formed partnerships with the Ceramics Department at Central Piedmont Community College, befriended native Mexican families, developed a collaborative projects Durham-based artist Antione Williams and Windgate 11-month Artist-in-Residence Betsy Birkner, and made public presentations at both the Mint Museum and Duke University.

The exhibition ENCUENTROS/ENCOUNTERS provides an immersive experience that chronicles their experiences in North Carolina as told through several distinct installations situated throughout the Center’s galleries. In addition, each installation tells the story of the Purépecha culture, its centuries-old cultural traditions, and the tale of ceramic works from the studio, to the market, to the kitchen, and to the home. Each handcrafted work carries with its own unique history. On view will be hundreds of examples of lead-free pottery, which offer visitors to the Center a unique opportunity to collect one-of-a-kind imported works by master artisans for inclusion in personal fine pottery collections or for holiday gifts.

Generous funding for this residency and exhibition is provided by Windgate Foundation. Additional support is provided by Cisco Brothers and Barro Sin Plomo.

Image: Encuentros/Encounters, featuring work by Dignicraft, 2014. Installation view. Courtesy of McColl Center.