Otilia Ruiz de Jérez
Otilia Ruiz de Jerez is a native of Raquira. She is also perhaps its most famous artist. She was a master sculptor, using the same techniques as mentioned last week with Tia Isabel. However, rather than making the traditional pots and cooking implements, she began sculpting people and religious art. Unlike some of the other people that had began using ceramic molds, each one of her works was unique -- handmade and hand painted.She is considered one of Colombia's 7 Art Masters and as such she has earned recognition on the Luis Angel Arango National Library Website. See her picture and more of her art at the following link:
In 1994, when my husband and I were married, we were in a mall in Bogota. Inside, on the top floor, was an Art store. In the windows of the store were a bunch of statues made of red clay, most were religious in nature. They were very unique. So, we stopped to ask about them. The salesman told us that they were original "Otilias". I checked the price -- and they were pretty much out of our league, so we thanked the man and moved on.
A few months later, we were in Raquira. There in one of the stores were more of those neat statues. We asked about them, and sure enough, they were original "Otilias". We found one in our price range and were able to bring her back to the US without breaking her. She now sits in our living room with a companion that we purchased several years later.
I guess they are a collectors item as Otilia Ruiz died in 2000. Now, her trade is continued by her daughter, Rosa Jerez. You can buy statues made by Rosa in Raquira. They are a bit more pricey ($40-$75 US) than the multitudes of other massed produced ceramics, but a wonderful investment and a unique Colombian treasure.