Meet the Craftsman: Rafael 'Rafy' Vázquez

His curiosity started at the university. With the help of a colleague, he took his first steps and became enthusiastic about the idea of ​​being a craftsman. Not long after, he met the great master craftsman José “Ché” Flores, to whom he owes all his knowledge of clay work on the lathe. Flores became his great friend and mentor. Since 1996, 25 years ago, he has been certified as a craftsman under the Handicraft Development Program of the Development Company in the area of ​​pottery, clay on the wheel.

The work of Vázquez Negrón (Rafy) stands out for the elements of Taíno petroglyphs that he incorporates in his works. "The Taino theme is a fascinating part of our history and it fills my soul to educate about it," he tells us. Throughout his career as a craftsman he has had the opportunity to share his knowledge and passion for pottery. He seeks to give continuity to this noble discipline, just as his teacher did. He takes pride in knowing that some of his students also share his passion and will turn it into his lifestyle and enter the world of crafts.

Rafy's effort and dedication has earned him several awards and distinctions. Among them are: Artisan Excellence Award from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture , Promotion Poster number . and awards for the assembly at the Plaza Las Américas Handicraft Fair. He had the opportunity to represent Puerto Rico internationally in artisan meetings held in the Dominican Republic and New Delhi, India.

In a conversation, Rafy tells us what the artisan world was like in Puerto Rico, 10 years ago or more. -Before we had a brotherhood, a lot of solidarity. Tables were even shared if necessary. It is seen how the quality of artisan work has changed, also the market. Therefore, you can no longer depend only on the craft fairs-.

Rafael Vázquez was always aware of the Artesanal Gallery project. He began his participation in it, in 2015, while they were exhibiting at Plaza del Norte in Hatillo. The impact was very positive, so much so that he said goodbye to the craft fairs. He appreciates the opportunity that has been given him in this project, which seeks to maintain the quality of the artisan work and promote contact between the artisan and the public.

In 2020, during the economic downturn due to the pandemic, Rafael Vázquez used much of his time to complete pending orders. His only regret is that he is still unable to offer mud classes on the lathe due to health restrictions. For this coffee lover, his most important message is: -Don't ignore the commitment and dedication of the artisan, since not everything is dollars and cents. You have to value his work-.

Now that we know a little more about our artisans, we can understand their management and contribution to the Puerto Rican artisan world. Let's continue to know what motivates them to continue promoting love for our arts and our culture.

If you want to know more about our artisans and find more news about Galería Artesanal visit our news blog.

Interview by: Linda N. Lozano Borrero
Reviewed by: Carmen L. Rivera Lassén

1 comment

Un muy buen artesano alfarero fue el alumno de mi padre y de ser alumno termino siendo un muy buen amigo y se convirtió en parte de la familia mi gran amigo Rafy te deseo muchas bendiciones eres un ser humano exelente y muy especial Dios te bendiga hoy mañana y siempre

Tania Flores August 11, 2021

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