The Aztec Empire flourished in Mexico from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The Aztecs’ art and pottery held onto the inherent color of the clay, from shades of brown and red to yellow, tan and dark green.
But you don’t have to be a time traveler to acquire pottery like the Aztecs made.
You can get some at Guadalupe Lanning Robinson’s studio in the Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment district in Huntsville. Lanning Robinson creates pots eerily similar to Aztec work due to sticking with the actual colors of the clay. She does not glaze the outside with different colors like most potters.
“I love the texture and colors of the clay, so I try not to cover that with a glaze. I do glaze the inside so they can be used,” Lanning Robinson said, “I love these Aztec-looking designs. It reflects my heritage. I sketch a lot, so everything you see here is my original design.”
She was born in Mexico but came to Huntsville in 1985. Lanning Robinson’s Mexican heritage is important to her. Blending Mexican culture with the deep South creates an amalgamation of looks and designs that have become popular.
“I feel very proud when people can recognize some of my heritage in my work,” Lanning Robinson said.
Lanning Robinson began her clay work 35 years ago. She loves her Mexican culture and the colors, energy and flavor it produces in her work. She uses coils to create her meticulous pots; some take over 30 hours to finish.
“I’m usually working on about two or three pieces at the same time, but time goes fast. I’m jumping from one piece to another. These larger coil pots take about 12 to 15 hours to build, and around seven or eight to carve the design. From the time I start to the time it’s ready to be sold, it takes about three or four weeks because of the drying and firing processes,” Lanning Robinson said.
Lanning Robinson’s studio includes much of her pottery, but she also quilts. She has exhibited in Nashville and throughout the South, including Birmingham’s Moss Rock Festival and the prestigious Kentuck Festival of the Arts in Northport.
“I guess Aztec blood is really awesome, and after thousands of years it still seeps through in my work,” she said. “I don’t try to do it consciously. A lot of people tell me my pots look like Aztec work.”
If you are in search for Aztec pottery and you don’t have a time-travel machine, your best bet may be to pay Guadalupe Lanning Robinson a visit in Huntsville.
The Product: Handmade pottery and quilts.
Take Home: Small bowl ($30)