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CHARABATIBIZZARRI ~ Collaboration in the art of Ceramics Evoking Textiles
CHARABATIBIZZARRI - Ceramics Evoking Textiles
opening, Thursday, March 23

by Barbara Erickson

I am asking myself, are these textiles? If so who made the loom that wove them? The names they carry reflect textiles and texture; ribbon, mop, wool, jute, black thread, silk, linen and crochet. The colors are intense and the patterns are intricate. I love textiles and collect them and now I am drawn into the world these sculptures mimic and extend. I first discovered the artists and their amazing textural work in Mexico City at a small exhibit. Now they are bringing their work to San Miguel.

CHARABATIBIZZARRI is a collaboration of two high school friends who went their separate ways to study art and design and thirty five years later met again in a grocery store in Mexico City, went to breakfast to chat and only then to discover that they shared a vision to unite the ancient tradition of pottery and the loom in a unique art form expressed in the medium of ceramics.

Bizzarri and Charabati’s philosophy is to take the gift of clay – the mud of the earth, and mix it with life-giving water and then add the spirits of the four elements, mixing and blending to find the softness in the clay. When the perfect softness is achieved they bend it, stretch it, cook it and give it form in individual discrete elements that are “woven” into the whole of the piece. The magic is in the love of the mixture, the knowledge of the tools and the process. Each of the thousands of pieces is formed by hand, without a mold. They are fired and then glazed and fired again at high temperature. Finally each piece is sewed or strung together to make the whole cloth. Their reference is the loom, but the result defies description.

Monica Bizzarri and Raquel Charabati feel that each hanging, as they call their pieces, joins the art of wire and ceramics in a reflection of ancient techniques made new by their personal sense of adventure and experimentation. They love the nuances of repetition and try for different optics with each piece. Monica says, “We love the different ways of looking at the same theme and are fascinated to discover for ourselves the secrets each hanging reveals. To repeat intensifies the meaning.” The women work side by side in the studio, finding a sense of leisure in the efforts, a sort of play with the materials to be alert to new possibilities. They called their collaboration “Sewing the Barro [clay]”.

Raquel Charabati and Monica Bizzarri were born in Mexico City and went to high school together where they became good friends. Monica studied graphic design at Universidad Anahuac, took a post graduate degree in screen printing in Minnesota and later moved to Italy for a masters in photography. She worked for ten years as the curator of exhibitions at Gruppo Amundsen in Rome. Raquel studied as a ceramist at the MOA (Toluca Japanese School) and then worked for 25 years as a ceramist. She has had solo exhibitions at the Mueso Franz Mayer and the Museo Casa Luis Barragán as well as producing public works on display in Israel.

After the now famous meeting in the supermarket Monica and Raquel rediscovered not only their friendship, but their shared creative passions. Monica says; “Our project was to create tiny pieces by hand that seem the same but are not identical, that are repeated in an orderly yet organic sequence and then binding, sewing, the pieces together we generate a hanging.
We like to give the ceramics the effect of softness, of movement that fired clay usually does not have. We create pieces that can be hung outside as they resist water and wind. The hardness of our clay makes works that will last over time, even though they look fragile. We like the fact that our work is completely manual and that that makes it unique; no piece is identical to the other.”

The women collaborate with CONFE, (The Mexican Confederation of Disabled Persons) to teach members how to join together the pieces of the art works and hire them to help assemble their hangings.

CHARABATIBIZZARRI, as Monica and Raquel’s collaboration is called, has shown work at the Giornata of Italian Design, The Craft and Folk Art Museum in the show “El Centro, its Matter and Craft”, the “Touching a Nerve” exhibit in San Luis Potosi, the Justo Sierra Museum, and the Arte-Sano Museum. Their works graces home deigned by by Legorreta + Legorreta, Teodoro González de León and ARTIGAS among others. Pieces have been shown in the UK-Mex Dual year exhibits in Liverpool and London as well as in numerous galleries in Mexico.

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You can see these unique pieces at their show “Cosiendo el Barro” (Sewing the Clay) at the Rosewood Hotel Cocktail Opening, March 23, 2017 at 7:00pm. The exhibition will last two months.

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Barbara Erickson lives in San Miguel de Allende and Barra de Potosí, a small fishing village in the state of Guerrero. She retired after selling her business in Southern California and happily moved to Mexico with her husband of many years in 2003. She loves Mexican artesanía, traveling in Mexico, studying Spanish, making friends and supporting indigenous artists and hardworking students.

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