Gregorio Bracamonte has carefully studied pre-Hispanic production techniques and feels a profound connection with his ancestors.
"Today I am a master artisan. But to be able to craft archaeological replicas, I had to work very hard.
"I was born on September 3, 1949 in San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua. I work in ceramics and my specialty is pre-Hispanic replicas. My adventure in art began when I was just a boy and would watch my parents work. I always liked the original and beautiful pieces our ancestors left for us. So I learned ceramic work from my father and with a teacher in the city of Masaya. Today, I work alone with no assistants or students.
"I consider myself a respectable person, friendly and, above all, responsible. This wasn't always the case. As a youth, I was an alcoholic; I was irresponsible at work and at home. Thank God, my life changed in 1988 when I became a Christian and stopped drinking. After that, I was able to dedicate myself to my true calling — my art.
"Whenever I remember my days at the ceramics school workshop, I have to smile. My companions and I were mischievous and always playing tricks on one another. The most fun was throwing someone into the pit where we mixed the clay. Everyone joined in the laughter and the guy who was covered with mud took quite a while to be able to go back to work. We all joined in — sometimes tossing someone else, sometimes getting tossed.
"In my workshop, I utilize clay, sand and oxides. Sometimes it's easier to find materials than others, and I purchase all our supplies locally. We each have specific tasks. I shape and decorate the pieces while Mercedes applies the underglaze and fires our ceramics.
"I so enjoy seeing that a finished piece measures up to what I had in mind. Being able to create a design that is 54 inches tall is something wonderful and this fills me with pride because not many artisans today can achieve this.
"My inspiration usually comes from museums, books and museum catalogs. In these designs, you've got to be really careful to create a replica that does justice to the beauty of the original pieces.
"In the future, I hope to continue growing as an artist and I'd love to find a fixed place to sell so as to improve our family economy. There are several people who buy my work but their orders aren't regular so there are times when I have no orders and no work."
Gregorio Bracamonte is recognized in his area as the greatest master of pre-Hispanic replicas and has taught several people in the craft. He has received numerous awards, and in 1986, he received a scholarship to visit Italy. Since 2001, he has traveled to the U.S. on a number of occasions.
The artisan has carefully studied pre-Hispanic production techniques and feels a profound connection with his ancestors. His works have been exhibited in Denmark, Finland and Japan, among other venues.