Sep 5, 2016


My obsession with huipiles began in 1995 in Mexico City, when I met an elderly woman named Mercedes sitting outside the bank where I was on the hunt for an ATM machine, aka Caja Automatico. Mercedes was perched on a step, in the shade of the bank building, selling a few colorful things that caught my eye.  Wearing a blouse of the most intricate and dynamic weaving that I had ever seen, she told me it was called a huipil. Then she regaled me with stories of her village, San Antonio Aguas Calientes, in Guatemala. Though I didn’t know it at the time, it was then that I became a huipilista. Since that day, due to my encounter with Mercedes and the first huipil I ever bought.... 

Lena Bartula / first huipil in an ever-expanding collection.

.... I have loved, collected and worn huipiles, travelled to find them and traded to acquire them. To this day, they continue to speak to me in the language of art, and of heart. I didn’t know until years later, what influence they would have in my life and my art.
And I didn't know until recently how much I wish this huipil was still whole. I split the seam, years ago, and gave it the other half to my ex-other half. I hope he's still enjoying his as much as I enjoy mine. 

The second part of that story is this only two of Mercedes' meager offerings went home with me. Besides the huipil, I also bought this mask from her. 
Lizard Woman mask, collection of Lena Bartula

No one would be very surprised to learn that it turned into this collection that now lives in my Mexican kitchen:

Mask collection, Mexico and Guatemala


cynthia korzekwa said...

Ciao Lena!
I've started a blog and Facebook page dedicated to Frida and huipiles and would like to do a write up on your can I get your email?
a presto,

Lena Bartula - Contemporary Huipils said...

Hi Cynthia, I look so forward to seeing your new blog! email me at