“By the end of the 20th century and the millennium (1997), a new ecological and interactive art expression came into being which, combining elements and materials whose colors are 100% natural, exalts nature… Rock Art.”
This is how Mario Balderas (Mexico) presents the beautiful and original art work he creates.
I am talking mainly of terracotta pots fired at high temperatures, with different kinds of cacti or crassulas and original designs made with sand, clay, earth, and semi-precious stones – the colors of which are all 100% natural – sealed with natural, transparent, and permeable resin. Besides the materials mentioned before, river stones, seeds, seashells, wood, and other materials are used as well.
These are semi-precious stones hand-ground with a hammer and sifted. All colors are natural.
Why Rock Art? It could be mixed up with what we commonly know as rock art – prehistoric drawings found on rocks or caves. But, in the case of these pots, the name is used in the sense that they are made with materials that have existed on this Earth perhaps for thousands of years, like sedimentary metamorphic stones which Mario collects in places that go from Valsequillo to the fossil desert of Tehuacan. Likewise, as in prehistoric times, the designs are an expression of the surroundings, of nature, and an example of how materials of all types found in nature are used to make a handicraft of infinite creative possibilities. It is a sensory work, of sensitivity more than technique.
The idea of making these pots emerged from Mario’s interest and liking for cacti, which he acquires in specialized nurseries in Tlaxcalancingo and Tenango de las Flores, in the Sierra Norte of Puebla, near Huauchinango. (It is important to emphasize that, as a sign of respect towards our planet and nature, all the cacti that Mario uses are grown in nurseries and bought; not one of them is plundered.) Designing came later, little by little and as the result of a trial-error process, since Mario never studied anything that had to do with design, drawing or painting (he’s a psychologist). It was an ability that he discovered having and that he developed and perfected with time, because “practice makes perfect”.
Making these pots – or the gardens or the stones or the pictures – is a complete step-by-step process that goes from traveling to the places where the materials are, getting the pots made, sanding them down, painting them, planting the cactus, making and sealing the design, and finally selling them.
Pots with planted cactus and prepared “bed” drying in the sun to make the design on top afterwards.
Mario also builds these carriers to transport the pots.
This work has become Mario’s life philosophy, a way of becoming aware and realizing his surroundings, of using his intellect, intuition, and common sense to make something that requires patience and all the creativity he’s capable of, because each pot has a unique design that is not copied from anywhere or anybody else and is created one by one by the skillful hands of Mario, my father.
-Elena Balderas from Make: en EspaÃ±ol