Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Roses and Revelations: Homage to the Virgin by Mexican textile artists

by Joyce Wycoff
Artist: Pascuala Vásquez Hernández
Zinacantán, Chiapas.

A unique, textile exhibit honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe and representing the work of textile artists from 52 Mexican communities will open at the State Museum of Oaxacan Folk Art (MEAPO) in San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca in December. The inauguration will be at 1:00 pm on Sunday, December 9. The show will be up until March 15, 2019.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is an omnipresent theme in the work of Mexican artisans and began to fascinate Linda Hanna, conceptualizer of this exhibit, at an early age on her first trip to Mexico.

Artist: Faustina Sumana García
San Juan Chilateca, Oaxaca.

Linda explains, "I first became aware of the Virgin of Guadalupe during a trip to Mexico that my family took in 1959. I watched as the devout approached the Basilica on their bandaged and sometimes bloody knees. This made a big impression on me at the age of thirteen, even though I was not Catholic."
Artist: Margarita Avendaño Luis
Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca.

The reverence for Guadalupe, fascinated Linda and she began to study the Virgins history starting with the miracle of her revelation on the cloak of Juan Diego, a local indigenous man, to the banner made in 1810 by the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, featuring the Virgin in an effort to unite the people of Mexico in a struggle for independence, to her ever-present image throughout Mexico. 
After living in Oaxaca for a few years, Linda organized the first “Virgin Playday,” a festive gathering on December 12th (the Virgins saint day) in which women come together in her folk-art filled home to make their own sculptures of the Virgin. In 2017 there were almost forty participants and it triggered an idea.
Artist: Hever Martínez Velasco
San Pedro Cajonos, Oaxaca.

Seeing women coming together to make art honoring the Virgin gave Linda the idea for creating a Virgin of Guadalupe exhibit featuring clothing made by individual, textile artists from various regions of Mexico and representing many different techniques. Because Linda knows so many textile artists she was able to pull together work from ten states of Mexico: Oaxaca, Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico (State), Michoacán, Puebla, Tlaxcala and Yucatán. The exhibit includes not only clothing, but also accessories, such as bags, shawls and jewelry, items worn close to the heart.
Artist: Gildardo Hernández Quero
San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Oaxaca.

Linda describes how the artists have responded to being included in this project:
"In many conversations I had with the artists, I was moved by their sincere enthusiasm and the honor they felt at being given the opportunity to depict the Virgin. One artist even went to his church to have his thread blessed and to pray for guidance in capturing the beauty of his muse. 
For most, this commission meant coming to terms with the limitations of an ancestral process and innovating in order to accomplish the desired result. For these reasons, there is a certain transcendent quality about these pieces that distinguishes this collection.
In addition to recruiting the artists and planning the details of the show, she plans to make it a traveling exhibition and will talk more about that and the show at the Oaxaca Lending Library at 5pm on January 4 and February 1.
Artist: Enriqueta Cenobio Calixto
San Felipe Santiago, Estado de México.

-- Linda Hanna has been an avid supporter of local folk art since she first moved to Oaxaca in 1997. Prior to that, she spent fifteen years working as a fiber artist and therefore has profound appreciation for the textile traditions and talent found in many Oaxacan communities. For the past 14 years she has acted as coordinator for the Oaxacan artists who participate in the annual craft show Feria Maestros del Arte. She operates a Bed & Breakfast out of her home:

Monday, November 19, 2018

Huichol Beaded-Art Surfboard

by Joyce Wycoff

It was a surprise to see a surfboard at the Feria Maestros del Arte and it pulled me into a conversation with Cilau Valadéz Navarro, the Huichol artist who began to tell me the story about the symbolism on the surfboard.

The next day, he agreed to tell the story on video. It's an incredible piece of art: a full-sized surfboard covered with thousands of tiny beads, each one embedded by hand into a base of beeswax.

Here's the link of Cilau telling the story: Huichol Beaded-art surfboard.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

"The clay is also shaping us." Guadalupe García Rios.

A wonderful thing about the Feria is that there are always surprises.

Guadalupe García Rios
Guadalupe García Rios opened her "Story behind the Art" presentation about high-fired ceramics with a short video which made us laugh, cry and fall in love with her art and with her.

Guadalupe loves clay. At one point in the video she proves her passion by flinging herself face first into a pile of clay.

Don't miss this beautiful and inspiring video done by two incredibly talented young people: Alma Silva and  Helios Nieto, who spent a month with Guadalupe and captured her heart and the brilliance of this folk art. Thank you Alma and Helios for permission to share this touching video.

Click here to watch video

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Feria is a community

by Marianne Carlson, Founder
The Feria is a community and sometimes we need to remember that we have just as much impact on the artisans who come to our community as they do on us. 
Recently Feria Board member, Donna Williams, received a letter from Margaret Ancira who had been traveling in Oaxaca and met a black-pottery artisan whose work she admired. Her note touched our hearts. 
When the artisan found out she was from Ajijic, he started telling her how much the Feria meant to him and that it was something he would never forget. She said, "His face lit up and his eyes watered at the same time. His entire face gleamed as he told me of those days he spent here.”

When she asked him if the Feria was a good one for him, he told her they had sold every piece the family had brought. She said the man was, “eloquent in his gratitude to his host family.  He told me over and over how kind they were to his they took them around the area to see the sights and fed them so well.”

I was particularly interested when she said he told her about how the Feria and his trip had affected his work and his family. He said he was more dedicated to helping his children be successful and teaching them be more serious about the business and to know that hard work brings the pleasures and rewards of life. 
Margaret told us, "I want you to know that Feria Maestros del Arte makes a difference to the vendor participants.  Not just monetarily but it also expands their world view. He really loved his time here, being with us NOB folks, and living the Ajijic life.  He was so grateful for all of it."
Margaret's note reminded me of how impactful every aspect of the Feria can be to the artisans who travel here to become part of the community we now call the Feria. Their lives are touched in so many ways we never even know about. Thank you so much, Margaret, for sharing your experience

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Rebozos - Endangered Folk Art?

Reprinted with permission from Mexico Stories

Note: Special discussion of the history and endangerment of this symbol of Mexican identity at Feria Maestros del Arte, November 9-11, 2018.

By definition, a rebozo is a handmade shawl woven either on a footloom or backstrap loom. Which means that any shawl or length of material, no matter how beautiful, should not be called a rebozo unless it is handmade. 

The history is long for this particular textile item, and continues to grow more complicated with time.

Neill James, an adventurer and travel writer in the 1940s, wrote in her book, Dust on My Heart, "The rebozo, a two-meter length of cotton or silk, is the most useful garment ever thought up by women.
"It’s a wrap during the chill dawn and after sunset hours; during the heat of the day draped Arab style over the head, it’s a hat. Coiled turban-like atop the head, it serves as padding when carrying a heavy burden. Given a few intricate folds and purchased fetchingly at an angle, shading the face on the sunny side, it’s an eyecatcher. 

I’ve seen babies wrapped in it, women sleeping in it; I’ve seen it uses dexterously as a shield while a nude modestly bathed in the river. Tied across the shoulders, it is an effective knapsack for caring heavy burdens. Draped madonna-like over the head it is high fashion is the most exclusive church.
And in her own, sometimes slanted, style, she added, "And should fancy dictate, with her rebozo, a woman could even hang herself.“

Wikipedia states:
The origin of the garment is unclear, but most likely derived in the early colonial period, as traditional versions of the garment show indigenous, European and Asian influences. Traditional rebozos are handwoven from cotton, wool, silk and rayon in various lengths but all have some kind of pattern (usually from the ikat method of dying) and have fringe, which can be finger weaved into complicated designs. The garment is considered to be part of Mexican identity and nearly all Mexican women own at least one. It has been prominently worn by women such as Frida Kahlo, actress María Félix and former Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala and still popular in rural areas of the country. However, its use has diminished in urban areas.
We should be happy the term rebozo comes from the Spanish rather than the Nahua, an indigenous people who call it "ciua nequealtlapacholoni.” 
This bit of material has been beloved by women throughout time and place in Mexico and played a role in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 when it was adopted by the Adelitas. These rebel women used it to smuggle guns and other weapons past government checkpoints making it synonymous with Mexico's struggle for independence.

Is the Rebozo, symbol of Mexican identity endangered?

Rebozo by Teofila Servin, Feria Maestros del Arte 2018
Ana Celia Martínez, professor of Mesoamerican studies at the National Autonomous University, says there are fewer than 200 rebozo weavers left in Mexico.

Logically, the culprits are progress and globalization. As Professor Martínez states, "Chinese rebozos are inexpensive and mass-produced using synthetic fibers. The end product is very fragile and frays very easily and the dyes wash off after a short time, while Mexican rebozos can remain intact for decades.”

Professor Martínez won the Tenerife International Artisan Prize 2014 for her project, “Izote, Iczotl, fiber with identity, tradition and permanence,” designed to preserve an endangered type of fiber called izote, which is produced in Zumpahuacán in the State of México. (Izote is known as the yucca plant in the southwestern US.)
Izote is seen to have historical importance because its use in pre-Hispanic times is evident in documents such as the Codex Mendoza, a 16th-century manuscript containing a history of Aztec rulers, where the pictograms show izote blankets.
Marta Turok
At Feria Maestros del Arte 2018, the premier Mexican folk art fair in Mexico, Marta Turoka Mexican applied anthropologist focusing on socio-economic development will speak on the forces that endanger the rebozo. Through research, government work, education and advocacy, she has worked to raise the prestige of Mexican handcrafts and folk art and to help artisans improve their economic status. Her work has been recognized with awards from various governmental and non-governmental agencies.

More about rebozos:

More about Izote: