A CULTURE MADE OF CLAY
The story of southwestern New Mexico - past, present, and future - may be told in clay. Humble as dirt, strong as brick, practical as a pocket, and delicate as crystal, it is the most basic element of life in the land of enchantment. It is the object of a human love affair with the earth itself.
Clay was crucial to the ancient Mimbreño people, the Spaniards, Mexicans, and the settlers of the late 19th century. Thanks to mineral-rich soil and diverse geology, the arid land yielded malleable material for making every imaginable item: from bowls to water jugs, walls to chimneys, flooring to roof tiles. Clay was a practical and easy-to-use material that molded and melded these diverse cultures.
a creative clay economy
Today, clay underpins the region's arts and crafts community. Studio artisans shape and marry it to paints, polishes, and glazes. Galleries showcase and sell regional clay artists' work. Local manufacturers create custom tile and adobe brick. Area museums, archaeological sites, and educational institutions teach us about clay's history. Artistry in clay is seen in public murals, installations, and historic architecture. There is even an annual CLAY Festival celebrating this humble material.
take a journey
The Southwest New Mexico Clay Arts Trail provides a map to this year-round clay destination. This four-county community initiative (Grant, Luna, Hidalgo, and Catron) has identified scores of clay-related sites. It is designed to promote the creative economy of clay. We invite you to take a journey and travel this trail of discovery.