Matin Malikzada Makes Pottery With Afghan Influences – The New York Times

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Matin Malikzada, a seventh-generation ceramist, is making a life in Connecticut with help from new friends.

Before leaving Afghanistan in 2021, the artist Matin Malikzada took pride in making pottery with the traditional materials and tools his family cherished for generations.

He used to mix his own clay dug from a mountainside near Istalif, a village north of Kabul that is known for its ceramics. He would kick his potter’s wheel with his sandaled right foot and make his bright turquoise glaze from the ishkar plant, which grows in the nearby desert.

Now Malikzada, 38, is recreating his life as an artist in the town of New Milford, Conn., about 80 miles northeast of Manhattan. His family of six are among the 6.4 million refugees or asylum seekers from Afghanistan who now live abroad. “I had more than 30 years’ experience, but everything was new for me here,” he said in an interview. “I felt like a kid.”

In Connecticut, Malikzada had to learn to use factory-made clay, an electric wheel with a different height and speed, and chemicals to create glazes. It took 415 experiments for him to come up with his signature colors, he said.

“I had to test, test, test,” he said. “Sometimes it came out very crazy, but my father taught me to always think positive.”

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development gave Malikzada an award as an “emerging creative” contributing to the state’s art scene.Adrian Martinez Chavez for The New York Times

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