Jan 18, 2015


The Pathmaker huipil workshop San Miguel was fabulous, Pathmaker Antigua was incredible, and now I'll need an even more expressive word for Pathmaker Oaxaca. Norma Hawthorne, aka Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, brought us together last week for this workshop, held in a family compound in Tetotitlan del Valle. This Zapotec weaving village is about 40 minutes outside of Oaxaca City, on the road to Mitla. These photos will give you an idea of our surroundings in this lush and welcoming valley:
el Picacho from the terrace at Las Granadas.

view from one side of the terrace, towards centro.

Carol Egan, Ellen Benson,Ruth Greenberger, Sherry Peel, Vicki Solot, Norma and myself gathered each morning in the garden patio of Josefina and her family, under the shade of the flourishing pomegranate trees for which Las Granadas Bed and Breakfast is named. In their kitchen began each day with a full breakfast of cafĂ© de Oaxaca, huevos, tortillas, frijoles negroes, papaya, yogurt y granola.

Our first night included introductions around the dinner table; some of our travelers had arduous, cancelled or overdue flights and we all shared those stories before falling into dreamland to prepare for the work ahead. The next morning we began by gathering flowers, candles, etc. and buiding an altar together, complete with burning some copal that Josefina offered. 

A circle of intention about our work, and off we went. I had created a PowerPoint presentation of huipiles, ranging from history and tradition to my own art, installations and exhibitions, to give an overview of styles, themes, shapes, seams and adornments. 

3-panel woven Guatemalan huipil in my collection.

Oaxacan satin and gold trim, from my collection.

Some had multiple ideas about their themes, some had brought a variety of materials and some had brought very little. Ideas were changed or augmented after the presentation, and they continued to shift in the first two days.

Ellen brought enough to create multiple huipils, and we watched her process of sorting through and making decisions as this one came about. Midway through, she believed the work to be about duality, although the style of work represents a 3-panel huipil.

Ellen near the finish of her huipil.
QUERIDAS, Ellen Benson, mixed media huipil, 2015.

As it progressed, she realized that she was creating a story about the new friendships she had made before her departure for the workshop, their contributions to her art and her life, and the new inspirations. The result was a mixed media work as colorful, dynamic and multi-layered as the artist herself. Well done, Ellen!

A playlist of favorite songs was Sherry's theme, and she chose materials that at first glance, might not have seemed to reflect her goal.... until she added a religious card she had brought. Then,"Mother Mary came to her, speaking words of wisdom, let it be" and she went for it. Her song titles are written into the holes in the paper, Mother Mary is in the heart place. Watching her add and subtract, revise and revision was a religious experience in itself. Well done, Sherry!

LET IT BE, Sherry Peel, mixed media huipil, with strands of wool from our host family's loom. 2015.

Stitching rose petals on the neckline.
Carol is a burst of living, breathing color  Choosing amate paper with 2 different 
colors of paper behind them, Carol created a 3-panel huipil that incorporated a textile she had collected on a previous trip. Never having stitched on paper and cloth, she determined to add rose petals with a knotted stitch, finishing off the neckline with fringe of embroidery thread. Inside the openings she wrote all the things she loves about Mexico. Well done, Ellen!
 I LOVE MEXICO, Carol Egan, mixed media huipil, 2015.

Vicki at work with "notions."

Emotional stories are part and parcel of our lives as well, and Vicki Solot challenged herself to  create a tribute huipil, as a way to say things she wishes she had said before her mother passed away. 
ARREPENIMIENTOS, Vicki Solot, mixed media
Armed with old photos, vintage sewing notions, and a quilt top she inherited, Vicki  proceeded to assemble, edit, reassemble, pin, evaluate, in a way that we do when feelings are so close to the surface. The process of completing this huipil will continue for some time. Good job, Vicki!

Blogger is not cooperating now, and this story will have to continue tomorrow. Stay tuned for Part two of WOMEN'S WORK / WOVEN STORIES.

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