I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in Itá, a city about 37 kilometers southeast of Asuncion. The word Itá means stone in Guaraní, the indigenous language of Paraguay. The city was founded in in 1539 by Governor Domingo Martínez de Irala and is a small town, with only 80,000 inhabitants. One of those inhabitants is Ña Gregoria (Ña is commonly used in Paraguay and is short for Doña and means “Mrs.” in Spanish). Gregoria Benitez is famous worldwide for her unique pottery and contribution to the traditional artistry of Paraguay.
Her dream was always to have a small museum to show the work of her family, to teach others the art form and show the world this work so that it would continue on. She first gained popularity over 50 years ago when she chose to differentiate her work from the other traditional artisans around Itá and in Paraguay. Her work was unique and she followed the path of creativity and innovation while holding true to the traditional methods.
Her and her family uses only the earth as materials-no paint. The color of the finished product is a result of the type of clay and the firing process. A typical piece is slowly baked for 6-8 hours and then the last 2 hours are at a very high heat.
Ña Gregoria’s work is truly spectacular. She has had the chance to travel the world to show her work and now delights in sharing her work and experiences with anyone who has the honor of coming upon her small corner of the world.