"I'll never stop creating pre-Hispanic ceramics because they remind me of my grandfather and it's very emotional for me."
"My name is Leonel Adan Cano Barrios and I was born in Nicaragua in 1976. I'm very hard working and I've always been that way.
"When I was 12, I started to become aware of the ceramic work my grandparents and great-grandparents did and how important it was. When I was younger, I didn't care but, at that moment, it was as if my eyes were opened to art. Everything they did interested me — from plates and cups to their wonderful ceramic vases with pre-Hispanic motifs.
"I spent hours watching them since no one let me help. They most likely thought I'd do it badly and would waste their clay. When I grew up a bit, and after observing and absorbing as much as possible, they finally let me try to make a few pieces. I happily began learning and was very lucky. I couldn't believe I could sell my first pieces in the market. That was a big achievement for me and it motivated me to continue crafting ceramics.
"Little by little, people began seeking me out in town to buy my designs. I put a lot of effort into them and improved my work even more.
"After working many years in pre-Hispanic ceramics, I had the idea of not only applying pre-Hispanic motifs like Mayan priests, feathered serpents and other ancestral icons, but also depicting the flora and fauna surrounding me.
"This gave me the opportunity to be more creative. I'll never stop creating pre-Hispanic ceramics because they remind me of my grandfather and it's very emotional for me. But I also love the freedom of contemporary designs that allow my imagination to soar.
"I work at home where I have a small kiln and, although we're poor, we always smile at life. I'm very proud to be one of my town's artisan representatives. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to show the world what I can do."