Maximiano Ochante is an expert at making altarpieces. He spent his childhood in the convent of Santa Clara, Ayacucho, because his father worked there. He supported the work of the church until he was nineteen years old and left Ayacucho.
His parents encouraged him to do evangelical work, a family tradition. Maximiano knew he was not a gifted speaker, so he found a different form of expression. He became convinced that, by making altarpieces, his hands could spread the words of the Lord. Thus, he ended up doing evangelical work, just like his ancestors, parents and siblings. Maximiano was intrigued by art from an early age. As a ten-year-old he took a course in crafting during a school holiday. It was a short course, but its content continues to motivate him today.
Afterwards, he wanted to learn more about making altarpieces. Mardonius López, son of the grand altarpiece-maker Antay Joaquín López, taught him the basic rules and the type of paint one should use. The rest of his knowledge he acquired as an autodidact. At the time, many artists struggled to find financial support. The lack of opportunities, terrorism and the low profitability of his work, pushed Maximiano to Lima in 1980.
As he did not have enough money to study, Maximiano started to make chess sets with characters from the Incas and the Spanish, as well as altarpieces he offered to tourists. He contacted art galleries and they were impressed by the beauty of his work. They began to sell his pieces in the center of Lima and he became a well-known artist.
As always, he was confident in the ability of his hands, so he decided to study to become a dental technician. He realized the possibilities this would give him in life, even beyond creating dental prosthetics.
After making a lot of sacrifices, Maximiano won the Inti Raymi prize two times, in 1995 and 1997. Other awards followed and European experts recognized him as a talented representative of Peruvian folk art. He has exhibited in Peru and abroad and is best-known for his altarpieces.
Maximiano is still as cheerful and optimistic as before. He lives surrounded by a multitude of figures made of flour and plaster. Some are brightly painted and other white figures are ready to be colored.
Feriberto Aylas is an autodidact master of pottery whose work reflects his life experiences in Peru. With his pieces of art he wants to introduce the public to Peruvian nature, the customs of indigenous peasants and the reality of Andean life. When Feriberto was little, he began working with ceramics. He remembers how making his own toys of clay as boy, while letting his family’s animals graze in the countryside. Later he started making glass windows.
At the age of eight, Feriberto visited the house of Artemio Orellana, a master of pottery, who patiently taught him the secrets of the craft. For a while he studied at a technical center, which allowed him to meet Mamerto Sánchez, who taught pottery at that time. He lived in Quinua until the age of eighteen, along with his brothers. In 1985, he moved to Lima to escape the difficult circumstances in his native district. He found a home in the district of Chorrillos, where other masters of pottery promoted their work and supported each other. Together they form a small community.
In 1994, Feriberto won the Inti Raymi contest. In 1997, he won an award for masters of pottery. These important awards allowed him to show his work to the public and to dedicate himself full-time to pottery. He used the prize money he opened his own studio.
One street in Lima houses the Orellana, Huasacca and Aylas families, all notable masters of pottery. In Feriberto’s studio he is assisted by ten people, who help him with baking and painting his pieces of art. For the finishing touch they use a specific natural clay. Feriberto likes to make angels. In contrast with most modern artists, he still works with wood stoves. Once in a while he uses electric ovens, but he prefers the heat of wood stoves, because it adds a special color to his pieces of art.
Roger Martínez Achalma is an expert at making altarpieces and painting wooden furniture. He was born in Huamanga, Ayacucho. His father had his own studio where he made altarpieces in the traditional style of Ayachucho. In his father’s studio, Roger learned to make molded figures for altarpieces and to paint traditional designs on the wooden boxes of the altarpieces. When he was seventeen years old, he started working full-time at his father’s studio. Once year later, he moved to Lima to start producing his own altarpieces of different sizes. On one occasion, he was asked to paint the decoration on wooden furniture created by famous artists. The high-profile clients of these artists liked Roger’s contribution to their furniture so much that it brought him fame.
Currently, Roger works with Raymisa and is responsible for painting the varied decoration on the wooden furniture that is destined for the American market.
Leonidas Orellana comes from a family of craftsmen. He has a distinctive technique and his pieces are always of high quality. Six of his seven brothers are also involved in the cultivation of Peruvian folk art.
As a child, Leonidas used to visit the archaeological remains of the indigenous people of Huari. He found remains of broken pottery and he enjoyed imagining what the pottery would have looked like when they were still used. At the age of thirteen, he spent a lot of time with two craft teachers, Arturo Pizarro and Leoncio Tineo, who helped him with developing his expertise in representing Huari culture in art, for example by making pieces of the bulls of Quinua. Ever since, Leonidas has been producing clay figures. Eventually, he perfected his technique and began to produce works of religious content.
Together with his brother Javier, he opened a studio and started making replicas of tools belonging to the Huari culture. At the age of nineteen, he moved to Lima to escape terrorism. While living in the district of Chorrillos, he founded his own studio inside the house of his brother Martial, where he began producing miniature parts. After a while, Leonidas could rent his own place and he began experimenting with different techniques. Leonidas considers this one of his best decisions in life, because the numbers of sold products increased significantly.
Between 1986 and 1990, Leonidas studied at the Peruvian School of Fine Arts to specialize himself further. He learned to use bright colors without losing the harmony between them. He also took other courses such as Contemporary Sculpture at the Cultural Center of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, the best university of the country, and Business Administration at the Peruvian Institute of Business Administration (IEEP). His training and open mindset have helped him to turn traditional ceramics into a rich source of resources.
His studio provides work for about fifteen people, depending on orders. His employees are responsible for business development and the creative processes, including making authentic pieces of art with a twist. Leonidas appreciates the support of Inti Raymi and Raymisa when it comes to promoting Peruvian folk art and generating more orders.
His studio is a good example of a ceramic artist who has managed to combine traditional production with the modern demands of the international market, without neglecting his own identity.
Elias Mozombite Quispe weaves sweaters and accessories of alpaca fiber and organic cotton using a manual machine. He was born in the city of Satipo, located in the department of Junin. He moved to the city of Huancayo to go to high school. During the last years of his secondary education he learned to weave and knit. In 1990, he came to Lima to visit family. He decided to stay in Lima to work at large folk art studios.
Elias is married and has four children. Three of them go to school, while his eldest daughter already works. All of his children learned to weave and knit sweaters, but they do not want to continue doing this work. His eldest son wants to study business administration, so he can help his father with the business development and administration of his studio.
Six years ago, Elias started collaborating with Raymisa. Since then, he received orders for clothes during the work season from April to August, much earlier than other businesses he collaborated with back then. As he received more and more orders from Raymisa he began to produce clothes exclusively for Raymisa. Elias based his choice for Raymisa on the early orders and the fact he lives nearby Raymisa’s office. This allows him to coordinate the entire process of his work. Together with his wife he runs his studio. They own four manual machines. He hires between six and twelve people to assist them, depending on the amount of orders. His family’s income is dependent on Raymisa’s orders and is used to send his children to school, to cook healthily and to pay medical bills if necessary.