Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Collaborating with Indigenous Artisans 25 years Later Launches the Atlantis Ceramic Art Studio
Paul H Devoti and a group of Indigenous potters have come together to create the Atlantis Ceramic Art Studio to high excitement.
San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua (PRUnderground) June 19th, 2020
The Peace Corps can certainly bring adventure, while also helping those in need. For Paul H Devoti his time in the Peace Corps delivered an experience that would lay the foundation for a collaborative effort over two decades later. Devoti arrived in San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua known for its cultural pottery in 1995. NICA Ceramic Art was launched upon Devoti’s return to NC USA in 1998 and an artist exchange program developed where artisans from the Nicaragua village would arrive to NC, travel around the USA to display their work and share their eye-opening indigenous culture. The Nicoya Indian culture of Central America and the particular heritage of the San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua pueblo has been sparsely documented in books, museums, and cultural institutions, something which is quite sad considering their vibrant way of life. Last year Devoti and four artisan friends came together to form Atlantis a ceramic art studio that operates in a home Devoti built in the village in 2018. Atlantis is a studio that reaches back to the pre-Columbian heritage of the village using local clay and earth pigments. Even in the face of challenges, this work continues today.
“It has been a rough road for Nicaragua with government crackdowns on its own people in April of 2018,” commented Devoti. “The events that followed in civil unrest and violent government reaction set the country back 20 years after steady growth in tourism and economy. With the country reeling economically the Covid-19 epidemic crashing down on Nicaragua and the village, Atlantis made a pact to stay operational. The delicate and timely process of creating museum quality cultural pottery is a challenge given the best conditions.”
Over the past 6 months, the studio produced 39 clay vessels decorated in a combination of native and contemporary techniques. A group of framed clay plaques also were produced that represents a bold new expression of the cultural pottery in a two dimensional way. The innovation Devoti and the Atlantis team added to the process is an exciting contemporary touch of color and technique that infuses a modern touch that complements the native style.
As the studio came toward the ﬁnish line of their artistic process a wave of village illnesses due to Covid-19 struck the village. Several artisan friends and family members lost their lives and the village retreated into a scared panic. Devoti initiated a GoFundMe campaign based on a test he ran with some friends in the village. The group purchased 200 pounds each of rice and beans, packed it up in 2-pound packs and then delivered the packages to 100 families throughout the village.
The positive impact the GoFundMe campaign had on the community has been resounding. Without the help, things would have certainly been much worse.
The packages the group delivered, thanks to the contributions from supporters, include a note in memory of the people lost due to Covid-19 and a reminder of what families can do to keep their own families safe.
The GoFundMe effort has been very successful and is creating incredible results. Meanwhile, Atlantis, its artwork, and its activities remain focused on the creation of some of the ﬁnest cultural art pottery in the world. Representing lost cultural heritage and the indigenous Nicaragua pueblo with Pride.
Reviews of Atlantis’s pottery has been extremely positive.
Susan Plemmons, recently said after receiving her order, “Yesterday, we received the two Atlantis art pieces my husband and I purchased from you last week. I must say, the are absolutely stunning! We lusted over them at the regular price but never dreamed we would be able to afford these stunning pieces for such a reasonable amount!! They are even more beautiful in person than on the website. The intricate carving is exquisite and the colors, vibrant. I feel as if these pieces are really two different vessels, combined into one. Sort of like combining a pre-Columbian jar with a Monet painting, if that makes any sense. Thank you so much for your deep discounts on these two pieces. I can’t tell you how happy they make me. Believe me, there is not much to make us happy these days!”
To learn more or to order be sure to visit www.nicaceramicart.com. Support the GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/manage/amigos-de-san-juan-de-oriente.
About Atlantis Ceramic Art Studio
Atlantis is a Nicaragua-based art studio that reaches back to its village’s pre-Columbian heritage through pottery using local clay and earth pigments.