Vicente was born in the Cusco village of Coyuchico, in Pisac. He has been working with clay for more than thirty years, creating pieces like those made by his ancestors, the Incas. At the age of 12, he began by making or painting beads for the craftspeople of what was then an emerging handcraft market in Pisac. The making of handcrafts using clay grew with the boom in tourism and the discovery of Inca pottery pieces at the Intihuatana (‘hitching post of the sun’) site. During earlier decades, the region had been controlled by the hacienda system, and its inhabitants were exploited by the landowners. Today, Pisac is a vibrant handcraft center and an international tourist attraction.
In this first stage, it was important for Vicente to work with Egidio Becerra, one of Pisac’s best artisans, whose art is characterized by innovation. That is how Vicente's fascination with experimentation began, as he worked with different types of clay, as well as shaping and firing techniques, and was inspired to learn more about what sounds had once meant to his Inca ancestors.
Although later he studied to become a mechanic in Calca and traveled to Lima to practice his profession, he returned to his native land to dedicate himself to pottery. Upon his return, he continued working for the artisans of Pisac, making beads for necklaces. The plasticization of the beads prompted Vicente to experiment with making a variety of objects, using different types of clay and slips. This marked the beginning of his passion for experimentation and the rescuing of ancestral techniques, particularly those associated with musical instruments and the production of sounds.
During that period, working with a commercial company, he learned the specific techniques required to produce pieces for the export market. He also continued to learn through several workshops, gatherings and experiences hosted by the Museum of Anthropology, in Lima’s Pueblo Libre district, and in San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) and Ouro Preto (Brazil). Vicente has participated in innovation courses in Lima and Cusco, and in 2020 he was acknowledged as a grand master of Cusco handcrafts by the Municipality of Cusco.
In Vicente Rayo’s workshop, you will be able to learn more about the most traditional forms of Cusco pottery production. Although Vicente is an innovative craftsman who is familiar with and employs different techniques and technologies associated with pottery production, one of his main interests is focused on understanding how his Inca ancestors produced their pottery. In his workshop, you will have the opportunity to learn how this process was conducted, and to make with your own hands a piece of Inca pottery. And you will also be invited to listen to Vicente as he plays Pre-Hispanic instruments made from clay.