By Jennifer Clement
San Miguel de Allende is a town that is full of secret places and secret things to do. Without a doubt, one of these is the Barro.Co Clay Studio in the San Antonio neighborhood. For many of us who have gone there for years it is a place of work, creation, and community. The site itself is an enormous warehouse with high ceilings, natural light, and large tables set out. The low-fire work studio is primarily dedicated to hand building—both sculptural and functional. In these times of COVID-19, the immense space is truly perfect as it allows everyone to work with safe distancing, and the use of face masks for staff and students is strictly enforced (temperature is also taken when one arrives).
The studio was founded in 2013 by Adria Calaresu who came to Mexico from Canada 27 years ago. She has an undergraduate degree in History and Anthropology from the University of Western Ontario, a diploma from BealArt, and a master’s degree in Fine Art. When asked about her vision she says, “I had a dream to make a place for thing-making, tool-hoarding and soul-cultivation, so I bought a run-down carpentry workshop and renovated it. I like teeny-weeny places to live and mighty spaces to work.”
The studio is professionally stocked with state-of-the-art equipment and can compete with any contemporary university clay facility today. The studio has four electric kilns, one enormous gas kiln, a potter’s wheel, a large free-standing slab roller, a wall-mounted extruder with dozens of templates, thousands of sculpting tools and brushes. Additionally, there are 60 colors of slips, mineral oxides, majolica glazes, two red earthenware clay bodies, two white earthenware clay bodies, each clay body with a smooth and groggy version, and lending a library of art books.
The community at Barro.Co Clay Studio is exceptional. With professional artists and amateurs from all over the world, the community is international. In the past few months alone there have been people from Holland, New Zealand, and Norway. Lori Henson, an artist who specializes in both clay and encaustic painting, has been working at the studio for five years. What she likes best is the fact that the space is so well-equipped, expert teachers are on hand to help, and it has a true community spirit. Bruno Monsivais, who is creating a menagerie of animals, comes to the space with his ten-year-old daughter; he says what he likes best is the order. The observation of organization, neatness, and cleanliness are notable and everyone who goes to the studio is impressed by this environment. In addition to Henson, other important artists who have worked here include Ivan Puig, Gilberto Esparza, Taiyo Miyake, Ana Thiel, Beck Underwood, and Alejandra Mendoza.
In the winter months Calaresu fires up the large gas kiln which stands in the center of the room like a medieval fireplace, and it seems like the only warm place in town. For more information see their website www.barro-co.com or contact them through firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook Barro.Co Clay Studio, or Instagram barro.co_clay_studio