Clay: The common ground of New Mexico’s people
For centuries, New Mexicans have used clay to provide the elements of life. Indigenous people in New Mexico made clay pots for cooking, eating, ceremonies, and burials. Mimbreño and Pueblo decorative pottery styles continue to evolve today. The Spanish introduced high-fired ceramics and decorative tile. Chinese settlers brought porcelain. Newly arrived American Easterners introduced mass-produced brick.
Mud, in many forms, embodies New Mexico’s history. Early cultures built cliff dwellings and, later, flat-roofed houses from adobe. Spanish settlers brought the same style from the arid regions of Spain. Anglo newcomers from the East adapted adobe to their own regional architectural styles.
Silver City’s first Celebration for the Love of CLAY aims to bring history to life.
Come to the Silver City CLAY Festival and walk around downtown Silver City. You will see that it was a Spanish adobe town that later added American brick. You can read the area’s history in its many forms of clay: in buildings, pottery, brick and tile. The lives of the Mimbres people in the nearby Cliff Dwellings and other archaeological sites are described directly in their designs, which show men hunting, women giving birth, and people training parrots, as well as voting. Objects from the lives of Spanish and Anglo settlers are still found in the rubbish heaps and waterways of Silver City, which was ravaged by floods in the 1800s and early 1900s. Pottery shards, hotel dishes, inkwells, flooring, and every household item have been found in the Big Ditch, which was Main Street until repeated flooding forced the downtown to move a block away to Bullard Street.
Silver City today is home to potters, mosaic artists, clay artisans of every description, and the nationally known art tile factory, Syzygy Tile. As a result, it displays a wealth of public art, from elegant and professional to homemade and fun. Take the Public Art Tour!