Barro (Clay)

28th October 2020
BY Paula de Solminihac, | BY Magdalena Atria, | POSTED IN All Projects, Cono Sur

Clay is a research project developed by Chilean artists and teachers Paula de Solminihac and Magdalena Atria, which hopes to create spaces for knowledge exchange between different types of pottery practices in Chile.

Focusing on women potters who live in towns in the south-central area of the country, we seek to deeply understand the relationships between women artisans and their territories. We also hope to enrich the ways that contemporary art is taught, creating an integrated system of knowledge that includes traditional and popular approaches to ceramics within the framework of university teaching processes.

The project is organised as a combination of field work, artistic creation, documentation and teaching. During January 2020, the first fieldwork was carried out, which consisted of visiting three places well known for their ceramic traditions:

Vichuquén and Pilén (Maule region) and Quinchamalí (Ñuble region). The purpose of the visit was to meet the women who work with clay in each region, learn from their ways of life, their relationship with their surroundings and their vision regarding the pottery trade and its context.

Based on this experience, the second season will take place the following winter (May-September 2020). During this period the artists will carry out personal creative work, bringing together their previous knowledge about ceramics with the knowledge collected during the visit to ancestral places.

Subsequently, we will produce an audio-visual piece to show the “ways of life” behind the pottery work – mainly the metamorphosing of women into their product, one of the main engines of local mythical creation today.

The audio-visual production will be carried out as part of a second field work season (November 2020 to February 2021). We will visit the original locations along with some new areas.


Given the nature of this project, we hope that the results will initiate a chain of knowledge that will grow over time, rather than closing in on a definitive and defining product. Therefore, a third season is expected to enrich the research and creation processes.


We hope to be able to examine the traditional Latin American ceramic objects in the British Museum collection, in order to create an exhibition at the Museo del Barro and to carry out a pottery workshop at the Villarrica Campus of the Catholic University (in Chile).

Publications related to women’s and maternal health with Wixárika communities by the author of this exhibition


Gamlin, Jennie B. (2013)
Shame as a barrier to health seeking among indigenous Huichol migrant labourers: An interpretive approach of the “violence continuum” and “authoritative knowledge”
Social Science and Medicine 97 75-81

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2023)
Wixárika Practices of Medical Syncretism: An Ontological Proposal for Health in the Anthropocene
Medical Anthropology Theory 10 (2) 1-26

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2020)
“You see, we women, we can’t talk, we can’t have an opinion…”. The coloniality of gender and childbirth practices in Indigenous Wixárika families
Social Science and Medicine 252, 112912

Jennie Gamlin and David Osrin (2020)
Preventable infant deaths, lone births and lack of registration in Mexican indigenous communities: health care services and the afterlife of colonialism
Ethnicity and Health 25 (7)

Jennie Gamlin and Seth Holmes (2018)
Preventable perinatal deaths in indigenous Wixárika communities: an ethnographic study of pregnancy, childbirth and structural violence BMC
Pregnancy and Childbirth 18 (Article number 243) 2018

Gamlin, Jennie B. and Sarah J Hawkes (2015)
Pregnancy and birth in an Indigenous Huichol community: from structural violence to structural policy responses
Culture, health and sexuality 17 (1)