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A master artist celebrates his Cuenca roots

I first met Eduardo Segovia a couple of years ago. I was newly arrived and busy furnishing my apartment when a friend introduced me to this exuberant man who I understood was a potter. When I visited his studio I expected to find finely thrown plates and perhaps some large coffee mugs to help me fend off the cool cloudy mornings. Instead, I entered the world of a world renowned master artist.

To say I was astonished would be an understatement. I was absolutely enthralled.

Eduardo Segovia at work.

Segovia’s range of artistic prowess embraces not only the whimsical, historical, and deeply contemplative, it is an expression of a man immersed in his art as a means of daily connection to the physical world around him. “I will never forget my Cuencano roots and the materials all around me,” he said, “I came from mud, I work in mud, and when I die, I will return to mud.”

Segovia found his calling at an early age. When he was in grade school, Carlos Crespi, a Cuenca headmaster, recognized the young artist’s talent and transferred him to a school specializing in the arts. Yet, for many in his generation, the need to work to help support the family was imperative. At the age of eight, he was busy molding little whistles in the shapes of birds and selling them on the streets of Cuenca after classes. Although each whistle sold for pennies, his sales volume produced enough revenue for a comfortable income, lifting his family out of poverty.

 

Segovia credits the breadth and diversity of his artistic work to being primarily self-taught. “I have no advanced formal training. My teachers have been books and works of art I have seen in person. The Chola Cuencana influence is at the center of all my work. It is a gift that was given to me by my heritage, especially by my mother,” he says. “I am also very fortunate to have some of the best raw materials in the world to work with, the wonderful clays surrounding Cuenca.”

One of the highlights of Segovia’s career was working with Ecuador’s greatest artist, Oswaldo Guayasamin. He assisted the famous painter and sculptor on several projects, including large ceramic murals displayed in public spaces around Ecuador. When Guayasamin died in 1999, his family asked Segovia to complete work on two unfinished ceramic murals at Guayasamin’s Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man) in Quito.

Segovia’s latest large-scale art project is working with the City of Cuenca to lay nearly 500 yards of sidewalk embedded with clay pieces depicting scenes drawn by Segovia. How fitting that a man who has dedicated his life to inspiring others with his vision will now guide your journey and your vision of where you are going in Cuenca.

Eduardo Segovia will turn 81 on Wednesday, 24 July. To celebrate the event, La Guarida, Calle Mariscal Lamar 22-23 and Luis Pauta, is hosting a retrospective of the master’s work and a special lecture from the artist on his rare and fantastic journey — it is an event you do not want to miss. For more information, call La Guarida at 282-4161.

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