PUEBLA, MEXICO: Pre-Columbian Ceramics Instructional Residency – Spring and Summer 2020

From a Mexican master instructor, learn Pre-Columbian Ceramics techniques in the majestic central historic district of Puebla, southern Mexico. Extendable 5-week sessions during Spring & Summer 2020.   Now Welcoming Applications through Sunday, December 1, 2019 Apply Now: Spaces are limited. Residency applications are evaluated for selection priority when they are received vs. after the […]

From a Mexican master instructor, learn Pre-Columbian Ceramics techniques in the majestic central historic district of Puebla, southern Mexico. Extendable 5-week sessions during Spring & Summer 2020.


Now Welcoming Applications through Sunday, December 1, 2019

Apply Now: Spaces are limited. Residency applications are evaluated for selection priority when they are received vs. after the deadline has passed.





Ceramic art and traditions in Mexico date back from at least 13,000 BC, reaching their peak with the most advanced civilizations in Mesoamerica. From the Olmec civilization in the Preclassic Era, to the Classic period with the Mayas in the Yucatan Peninsula, the Zapotecs in the valley of Oaxaca and Teotihuacan in the central valleys of Mexico, to the Postclassic Period with the Cholultecas in Puebla, and Aztecs in the Central valley in Mexico, ceramics were considered one of the highest and most regarded forms of arts. The European invasion and conquest of the Americas severely affected the styles, decoration, forms, and techniques of native traditions; however some pottery forms have survived intact until this day, including comals, molcajetes (grinders), some basic cooking bowls and utensils, as well as censers. While some traditional pre-Hispanic style ware was still produced in the early colonial period in Mexico, its quality and aesthetics declined dramatically. The importation of European and Asian artifacts also influenced the ceramic styles in decoration and techniques, contributing to the flourish of new complex traditions such as Talavera (majolica) in Puebla.


Most of the techniques of pre-Hispanic wares are not glazed but rather burnished and painted with colored fine clay slips, incorporating color by adding mineral pigments, which could be applied before and/or after firing. Building techniques include molding by pressing the clay against pre-existing shapes or molds, and sometime using slip casting with relief decorations such as the ones in Puebla and Tlaxcala. There are many known methods of decoration used in pre-columbian pottery including pressing designs into the clay with textiles, using stamps, pressing shells and sharp tools, etc. Local clay bodies continue to be used for traditional ceramic in Mexico with no additives, which makes the ceramic arts diverse, rich, and complex in traditions, styles, techniques, and qualities.


The Pre-Columbian Ceramics Instructional Residency acknowledges the rich history of ceramics in Mexico by incorporating the knowledge of local building techniques, materials, and styles. The 5-week program includes 3 weeks of master instruction (36 hours total; 9 hours over 4 of the 5 weeks) to learn the stylistic possibilities of the pre-Columbian ceramic traditions of Mexico, followed by two weeks of continued, self-directed production. The program comprises hands-on instruction with diverse clay bodies from the region of Puebla and Tlaxaca. Instruction is in Spanish focusing in learning and experimentation with traditional techniques including burnishing, clay slips, pressing techniques, and traditional carvings. This residency is a comprehensive program to learn about the pre-Hispanic ceramic traditions of Mexico, focusing with a material experimentation, and including resources for a better understanding of the history and cultural context of ceramics in the region.



Our customized International Artist-in-Residence Programs offer competitive professional opportunities for emerging and mid-career, national and international artists, designers, curators, art historians, art educators, journalists, writers, and cultural researchers age 20 and over. Our programs are based on a non-exploitative model promoting social consciousness. Residents are strongly encouraged to explore various ways of cultural exchange as part of their artistic and/or research goals and to actively engage in critical discussions as part of their residency experience. Understanding Mexico or Peru’s context and cultural complexity is key for a successful cultural exchange. We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and disciplines who are interested in creating work or inspired by art, elements, techniques or processes specific to Mexico or Peru.


Arquetopia is distinguished worldwide for its array of unique, customized residency programs with substantial content. Our residency spaces function exclusively for productive art professionals, writers, and researchers and include structured, informative programs; a network of collaborative workspaces, institutions, and studios; and individualized project support.



For profiles, feedback and testimonials from many of our outstanding past resident artists, art historians, and writers, don’t miss this page on our website: Arquetopia Foundation: Our Resident Artists



  • Selection decisions are based on artistic work and proposed project. Candidates at all stages of their careers (emerging and established) must demonstrate a clear sense of potential.
  • Our pool of applicants and residents is diverse in all aspects.
  • Our residency programs are competitive opportunities for artists and researchers to pursue their own work, free of pressure (especially work that in their particular circumstances would normally be difficult to produce).
  • The creation of community with fellow residents and staff during the residency period is important.


Founded in 2009, Arquetopia is an internationally established, award-winning nonprofit arts and cultural foundation with a social scope that emphasizes critical thinking through artistic practices. Our academic International Artist-in-Residence Programs are the largest and most reputable in Latin America, with an array of contents anchored in a solid structure of collaborations with prominent cultural institutions, renowned experts, and notable artists. We are invested in approaching art and art history with a critical perspective by understanding Mexico and Peru’s complexity in context and incorporating nuances in narratives and interpretation especially of the 3,000-year heritage of visual culture of these two countries. Since its founding, Arquetopia has raised the bar in the residency field, becoming a reference to every residency program in Latin America and influencing most of them in approaching artmaking with more rigorous practices, critical perspectives, and high standards.



A spectacular, four-story 1939 Mexican Colonial California-style compound conveniently located in Puebla’s central historic district and close to the Zócalo (city square) accommodates the offices, residency space for up to 12 artists-in-residence, and numerous production spaces of Arquetopia. Recently renovated and expanded, the residency offers a large, natural-light studio; a darkroom; a printmaking studio, a ceramics firing facility with a medium-sized gas kiln; a natural pigments laboratory; a multi-room public gallery space; ten furnished bedrooms; a large dining room; an open-access kitchen; furnished outdoor terraces and viewing decks; a small botanical garden; a research library; and a rooftop lounge with panoramic views of the city.



Accessible via two international airports in Puebla (PBC) and Mexico City (MEX), Puebla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that lies 136 km (84 mi) from Mexico City and has approximately 5,000 colonial buildings. With a population of 2.7 million, Puebla is famous for a deep cultural identity, delicious cuisine, Talavera ceramics, and traditions rooted in the 16th-century baroque and enriched by a blend of five pre-Hispanic/indigenous cultures, Arab, Jewish, French, and Spanish influences. Puebla lies 45 km (28 mi) east of the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes, giving the residents a magnificent view of their snow-topped peaks. At an elevation of 2,200 m (7,200 ft), Puebla features a temperate subtropical highland climate, resulting in an average of only three days per year seeing temperatures above 29°C (84°F).



Our residencies are academically oriented professional programs that are customized to each artist-in-residence. Our programs include weekly meetings with our directorial and curatorial staff for individualized research assistance and resources, project guidance, and critique; 24-hour access to large, shared studio with natural light, personal workspace, large tables, wall space, and some tools; wireless Internet; furnished, private accommodation and use of shared indoor and outdoor common spaces; home-cooked meals, locally grown coffee, and stocked kitchen for 24-hour resident access; shared bathrooms with modern fixtures and showers; utilities and housekeeping. For the instructional residencies we offer, the instruction our residents receive from the Mexican master artists we contract is funded directly from the residency tuition fee, and materials and supplies for these instructional courses are included. Arquetopia provides carefully detailed trip preparation materials, arrival transportation instructions, and orientation materials to all incoming residents.


Technique Instruction:

  • 36 hours master instruction during the first 4 weeks (9 hours per week)

Staff Support:

  • Each resident meets weekly with our directorial/curatorial staff for individualized research assistance/resources, project guidance, and critiques
  • Our residencies are process-based; residents are not expected to give talks, exhibitions, or workshops

Accommodation and Meals:

  • Furnished, private bedroom
  • Meals and 24-hour access to the kitchen and dining room
  • Wireless Internet
  • Use of Arquetopia’s residency spaces including 4th-floor lounge and outdoor terraces
  • Shared bathrooms with modern fixtures and showers
  • Housekeeping

Studio Workspace and Materials:

  • On-site ceramics facility with medium-sized (2ft X 2ft X 2ft interior) gas kiln
  • 24-hour access to large and bright, shared art studio with generous natural light
  • Personal workspace with large table and wall space
  • Materials and supplies for the instructional course provided
  • Materials and supplies for additional project production are not included but are available for purchase locally


Session Length: 5 weeks during Spring or Summer 2020, with option to extend for 1 to 7 more weeks as a self-directed Art Production Residency. Dates are not predetermined; applicants may nominate their own approximate range of start dates.

Program Tuition: USD $659 per week (USD $3295 for the 5 weeks). Optional Art Production Residency extension USD $495 per week. Deposit of 25% of Residency Program Tuition due within 1 week of selection. Tuition balance due by 90 days prior to residency start date. Partial tuition waiver options; e-mail us.



E-mail Chris at info@arquetopia.org

Visit the Arquetopia website at www.arquetopia.org
Complete and submit the Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence Online Application Form, following the instructions on the web page.

Following selection, applicants are notified immediately via e-mail.


Arquetopia is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our diverse local and international community. Arquetopia’s resident artist and staff backgrounds vary in all aspects. As part of Arquetopia’s mission is to promote diversity, Arquetopia actively fights discrimination by offering access to its programs and activities without regard to race, color, gender or gender expression, national origin, age, religion, creed, or sexual orientation.


Arquetopia on the Web: www.arquetopia.org

Arquetopia on Instagram: www.instagram.com/arquetopia

Arquetopia on Facebook: www.facebook.com/arquetopia

Duration of residency

Sessions of 5 weeks, extendable (see description in call)


See description in call

Disciplines, work equipment and assistance

See description in call

Studio / Workspace

See description in call

Fees and support

See description in call

Expectations towards the artist

See description in call

Application deadline

Residency starts

Residency ends


Link to more information