NY Times Mentions Norma Schafer: In Mexico, Weavers Embrace Natural Alternatives to Toxic Dyes

Click here to read article. 

First, a special call-out to Porfirio Gutierrez and his family for all they do to promote the use of natural dyes in the making of their hand-woven tapestries. His sister Juana is a master dyer and his brother-in-law Antonio innovates on design and materials. Congratulations on this feature story!

I was honored to be interviewed a couple of months ago by New York Times Science reporter Erica Goode to offer source information about the natural dye world in Teotitlan del Valle.

Of course, I emphasized that in addition to Porfirio’s family, there are about a dozen other families or family groups who are dedicated to preserving the natural dye culture. This includes my host family, Galeria Fe y Lola, Federico Chavez Sosa and Dolores Santiago Arrellanas. This takes time, commitment and an investment of more expensive materials.

Please join me on a one-day natural dye and weaving study tour to explore our weaving culture in more depth.

Lower Price, Return to Teotitlan del Valle: 2018 Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing Retreat with Gentle Yoga

Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation Matches 50% with Earthquake Donation

Make a gift to support Oaxaca earthquake relief through Citibanamex using the wire transfer code below and the Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation will match 50%. Another way to support Oaxaca! This was verified by foundation leaders.

Remember, the earthquake most affected the people of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec — not Oaxaca City, Huatulco or Puerto Escondido. Don’t cancel your trip!

 

Oaxaca Earthquake Damage Extensive: Urgent Support Needed

I’m putting out another donation call to help the Oaxaca earthquake victims. The situation is dire along Oaxaca’s southern coast and particularly in the city of Juchitan de Zaragoza.

click here to watch BBC video of earthquake devastation

There are two ways to donate that I know your gifts will go directly to the people in need. They are trusted to know where the funds can be used.

  1.  To Francisco Toledo Foundation   Francisco Toledo’s Foundation IAGO (Instituto Artes Graficas de Oaxaca) https://www.paypal.me/donativoistmo
  2. To anthropologist Denise Lechner who is working in the field https://www.paypal.me/deniselechner

Francisco Toledo is a renown Oaxaca artist-activist who was born and raised in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, that suffered the most severed earthquake damage.

Denise Lechner is a personal friend who has worked with artisan communities along the coast of Oaxaca for years. Go to her Facebook page to see photos of the affected areas.

 Report From Barbara Cleaver, Hotel Santa Fe, Puerto Escondido

Our hotel in Puerto has been one of the gathering places for donations: Denise Lechner has been on top of encouraging donations, and then driving them to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

We too have donated, both in money and in supplies, and will do more.
So much damage! In Tehuantepec, Chiapa de Corzo, up in Mixe country….but Juchitan de Zaragoza is a disaster zone.

I encourage everyone that can give anything, to do so. Please.
Thank you.

Friends, if everyone who reads this sends something ( 5$/ 20$/ more if you can afford it), it would make a huge difference.

Some places have even lost access to water, as wells have collapsed or been buried by rubble. This is the largest earthquake to hit Mexico in 100 years…please help if you possibly can.

The news of the extent of the damage of this earthquake is overshadowed by the drama of the terrible hurricanes … but Mexico needs help.

Something on the order of 1,000 houses have been damaged in Juchitan, along with public buildings.

Bad damage ( and slow help ), with many houses down, in San Mateo del Mar (an important weaving village on the coast — near Laguna Superior on the map). I have not yet heard from San Francisco del Mar.

Houses rendered uninhabitable in Tehuantepec; I don’t know how many because it is still hard to get through to anyone, but we were able to talk to one friend. Her wonderful old house is probably beyond repair and she says others, too.

Power out/ many ( but not all) phones out.

Chiapa de Corzo, the wonderful old fountain from the 1500’s, and some houses; again, I don’t know how much.

So many places!

The more I hear, the worse it gets…

We sent supplies with Denise and now we are going to send money so she can buy what she sees is needed.

You can tell your people to have full confidence in Denise..I certainly do.

Hijole…

It was a huge long quake, and there have been so many aftershocks, off Chiapas and off Salina Cruz.

Thank you for putting the information out there, Norma!

Bowers Museum of Art Invites Norma Schafer to Speak About Oaxaca, Mexico

Today, I arrive in Southern California to give a talk about Oaxaca, Mexico, art and culture at the Bowers Museum of Art in Santa Ana. The Collectors’ Club invited me about six months ago to make a presentation on Saturday afternoon, September 16, 2017.

There is so much about Oaxaca to cover.  I thought I would share my narrative outline with you:

Interior gold leaf, Templo Santo Domingo, Oaxaca

Oaxaca is one of those rare places in the world that inspires creativity and artistic expression. A UNESCO World Heritage site colonized by the Spanish in 1521, its indigenous roots go back 8,000 years ago.

It is mestizo, mixed, a blend of ancient and contemporary, reflecting generations of invasion, migration and cultural identity. Walk her cobbled streets and feel Colonial history. Explore her villages and know the first peoples who lived here before – and now.

White corn tlayuda, indigenous, organic, non-GMO

Corn (maize) was first hybridized in nearby Yagul, Oaxaca, caves by Zapotec farmers. Carbon dating has pinpointed this at 6,000-8,000 years ago. The plant traveled worldwide to become an essential food source on every continent.

Barbecue served for local fiestas

Oaxaca’s culinary prowess is second to none. Her finest restaurants and humble comedors give way to innovative recipes rooted in native history, married with European influences. We know mole negro. There are six others.

Intricately embroidered blouse, San Bartolome Ayautla

Women sit at back strap looms, nested on packed earth floors in remote villages weaving beautiful garments with supplemental wefts embellished with figures from nature and the constellations, just as they did thousands of years ago. There is a revival of native natural dyes, including cochineal and indigo, as well as the use of native silk and wild cotton.

Indigo dye bath turns wild marigold colored wool to green

Pulque, the fermented juice of the agave plant evolved into mezcal, a leading artisanal beverage distilled from the roasted core of wild and cultivated cactus plants. Have you tried Gracias a Dios Gin Mezcal?

Health benefits of agua miel before it becomes pulque

Ceramic figures and cooking vessels are made today much like they were in 900 A.D. when Zapotecs artisans supplied the mountain-top kingdom of Monte Alban. Mixtec gold filigree jewelry unearthed at this archeological site is reproduced and offered for sale, made even more desirable by popular Frida Kahlo style. Contemporary silversmiths adapt traditional designs for practical daily wear.

Ancient traditions, making a clay comal for tortilla making

And, the contemporary art scene is unparalleled. Printmakers, graphic artists, painters and muralists actively produce extraordinary works that capture the essence of Mexican history, culture and politics. Their work is rooted in the pre-Revolutionary iconic work of Jose Guadalupe Posada and post-Revolutionary murals of Rivera, Orozco and Siquieros.

Painter Gabo Mendoza talks about the subject of his works

Experimentation, innovation and design permeate a vibrant arts scene that encompasses all the senses.

Market scene, Teotitlan del Valle

Yet, Oaxaca is the second poorest state in Mexico. It has pockets of poverty, social unrest and a widening economic gap. Rural, indigenous people have limited access to education, health care and public services. They demonstrate peacefully now to express their discontent.

Day of the Dead Altar

Despite this, Oaxaca is safe and welcoming.

During this presentation, Norma Schafer will lead a visual tour of Oaxaca city and villages, discuss artisanal crafts and contemporary art in the context of social history, bring examples for you to see and touch, and answer questions you may have.

At the confite, the church parade