Marilu Gallegos

Dinner With Nostalgia

Senior Project April 2015


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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember always going to Mexico where my whole family would get together and sit around my grandmother’s dinner table having a great time eating wonderful food, and just enjoying each other’s company. There would be music and reminiscing on the good times we all had together. In my grandmother’s kitchen there were always colorful ceramic pots that she would use for cooking and serving food. Most of the styles of Mexican ceramics that I have seen are Talavera.  Talavera pottery is a decorative earthenware pottery style that has strong and bright colors with detailed patterns. Most Mexican potters use a lot of bright colors; the colors are the most critical part of making Talavera because each color should be compatible not only with the design, but also with the vessel form.  As a potter I want to express my connection to my Mexican traditions through a tableware setting, and to recognize where I came from.  One of my favorite dishes is posole rojo which is usually only served on special occasions.  Posole rojo, or “red” posole, is made with pork shoulder or chicken, red chiles, and lot of hominy corn.  Typically you would eat posole with additions of shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, cilantro, onions, and wedges of lime. For my favorite meal, the posole is accompanied by chicken flautas and sweet jaimaca hibiscus tea.

For my senior project, I have created my own tableware to celebrate these special occasions, when family comes together to enjoy each other’s company. All of the dinnerware place settings and serving pieces were made for each member of my family to enjoy my favorite meal. Since I cannot travel to Mexico as often as I would like, I want to recreate that same feeling here in Florida. Growing up in a Mexican culture and seeing traditional Mexican pottery, I want to incorporate this in my work with Old World visual legacies like native floral and animal motifs.  What I did was to use those traditional materials and methods with my own interpretations taken from contemporary ceramics. In my work, I want there to be a clear evidence of the hand; since each and every Talavera pot is painted by hand, they are different from every other piece.

All of my work is made out of earthenware clay. Most forms are wheel thrown; the plates are hand built from slabs made with a slab roller and use drape molds to get the shape of the plate.  After I have thrown or hand built my pots, I cover them with white slip and red terra sigillata.  Sigillata is an ultra-refined clay slip that gives a soft sheen when applied to bone-dry ware. The white slip creates a blank canvas for the underglaze painting, and the designs for the individual  place settings were developed for each of my family members to describe something about who they are. After painting, a shiny clear glaze was applied to the work and fired to 1888 degrees in an electric kiln.