Sep 20, 2013


I am so excited to announce an upcoming 
 in Antigua, Guatemala. 

Judy Sadlier, who came from Guatemala for my last workshop, has invited me to present the same material there in Antigua. She has secured the wonderful studio space of Olga Reiche, INDIGO, and the dates are set for Thurs/Fri, Oct. 3/4.

I love Antigua so much, and all the surrounding villages where women weavers still create the most amazing huipils, some very traditional and others more modern. Over the years, I've come to know some of them, and this time, we'll be meeting with Petronila Méndez, the grande dame of huipils at the Antigua mercado as we initiate THE HUIPIL PROJECT.

about the work :
In "Walk in Beauty," you might notice that the center panel features a person with a head bundle. Certainly one sees a lot of this in indigenous cultures, and often in places like Guatemala, Chiapas and Oaxaca. 

Did you know that the spanish word Llevar means "to carry" and also "to wear?" Because before suitcases and bags, wearing a thing was the way to carry it. It can be a perfect way to carry a bundle of things one needs that day, while still having hands free for shopping, kids, selling, etc.  It can also be the only way to cross a river and end up on the other side with something dry to wear. This week I've been thinking about it in regard to all the displaced people due to flooding, from Colorado to Mexico to Guatemala. So many missing, so many dead, and those who survived may have left their homes with nothing more than something they could put on their heads. How do I, the artist, speak about this?

I didn't know it at the time I created the work, but afterwards emerged a prayer for all those displaced. Those whose lives hinge on their ability to walk away, to just walk one step at a time, to walk with beauty, grace, dignity and hope. Some of you may recognize the title, it's from an ancient Navajo chant I learned many years ago from Annie Kahn in New Mexico. On those days when just putting one foot in front of the other is a chore, we can sing this chant and continue down our path, trusting that it will lead us in the right direction. Walk in beauty!


Sep 9, 2013


 "The path is the goal. It has one distinct characteristic: it is not prefabricated. It doesn't already exist. The path that we're talking about is the moment by moment evolution of our experience, the moment by moment evolution of the world of phenomena, the moment by moment evolution of our thoughts and emotions. The path is uncharted. It comes into existence moment by moment and at the same time drops away behind us."

- Comfortable With Uncertainty by Pema Chodron

Kathleen ponders her design ideas.
None of us, neither students or this teacher, could have predicted the absolute flow that we encountered this week as we worked and played together on what we like to call "our stuff." From the moment the workshop began, with a presentation of my huipil collection and a brief explanation of the history and traditions, to contemporary thought in regards to symbolism, metaphor and materials, the energy swept us all into an exquisite excitement that lasted for two days. 

Judy wonders how she's going to sew a snake.

Patricia contemplates the nearly blank canvas.

 Two students, unbeknownst to each other, had brought heirloom aprons to incorporate into their huipils. After much debate, one ended the other claimed hers as a bit of wholeness that was needed for her to survive in tact. What do aprons have to do with huipils? Women's work, of course! We stitched, we glued, we cut, we ate, and we talked. Alot!  As women do.

Excitement prevails when something goes
the way you want it to!
Placement of objects and focus!

Tears were shed, laughter was shared, creativity soared and madness ruled! Nothing had to make sense, everything was perfect as it was, no right, no wrong, just following the creative path as far as we could in the allotted time. 

Freeing the mind makes for too many choices.

Strangers became friends, scraps became art, personal histories became intertwined with imagination. 

Some of the themes we played with:

Old ways of being 

Beliefs no longer held 
Hoped-for experiences  
Past actions vs being present 
Who we think we are 
Who others think we are.

All get concealed and revealed, revealed and concealed, until they blend, and we accept them. They're beautiful.... we are who we are because of them!

Says Patricia: 
"I have wanted to work with Lena for many years now and was thrilled when she announced the Pathmakers-Huipil Workshop. What a pleasure to work for two days with others making personal art. The studio-artist's home sings with creativity. Between the surroundings and Lena's supportive, guiding presence my vision for what might be was surpassed. YES!"

Says Kathleen:
"Any time you can work with an artist in their studio, jump at the chance! I was lucky to hear about Lena's workshop in time to attend and enjoyed every minute living in her particular and beautiful world of visual art. Working with new materials and concepts I learned to expand my creative horizons and now feel inspired to take risks, think way outside my various boxes and deeply contemplate my creative Path"

Says Judy: 
"After signing up I found myself very occupied remembering my entire life and mentally searching for ways to represent it tangibly. Gathering my materials, I traveled to Mexico from Guatemala, and what a joy! Lena is a gentle inspiration as a workshop leader and a lovely person. The group was compatible as we all worked and talked and shared our past lives. And each of us had a rewarding and big start on the final image we created at the workshop to take  home and complete."

The gift of sharing this huipil path with others is that it's not just in the viewing but in the doing!  Next workshop: Oct. 21 / 22. Email me if you're interested,  
Class size is limited.

Sep 1, 2013


(Veracruz, 1501 – 1530)

a woman called by so many names!

This child’s dress, patterned with the calendar glyphs of the Pochtecas, is also layered with gauze to simulate a veil between La Malinche and us. Called a traitor by some, a liberator and mother of the new race by others, a veil exists through space and time, making it impossible for us to ever fully know her own story. 

A DRESS FOR MALINTZIN, mixed media, 17x21", 2009
MENSAJES GUARDADOS, Galeria 6, Mineral de Pozos

At the age of 10, her parents sold her to a band of traveling merchants, the Pochtecas. They resold her at 13, to Chocun Putun, as a maid in waiting. Seeing her exceptional talents, they then presented her, along with 19 other women, to Hernán Cortés. He made her into his translator, his guide, his concubine, eventually having children by her. Christianized, she became Doña Marina. As his reluctant accomplice, she is negated still today, and nowhere are her own words recorded.

Images from early codices show La Malinche speaking for Cortés, wearing a long huipil.

In July, on a trip to Mexico City, I was again reminded of her while visiting the Museo de la Ciudad. The building that houses it was built on the ancient site of the Tenochtitlan causeway, and these codex images most likely represent the first meeting between Cortés and Moctezuma.