We’re really excited! Today Eric Chavez Santiago started a new job — coordinator of educational services — at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, the new Oaxaca City museum funded by Alfredo Harp Elu, the Banamex philanthropist and relative of chanteuse Susanna Harp. Un milagro, one might say. But talent, perseverance, intelligence and understanding of textiles as art are the personal strengths that helped Eric get the attention of the museum’s director, Ana Paula. It’s a perfect match! The museum’s mission is to preserve, document, rescue and promote the textiles of Oaxaca. Eric, his father Federico Chavez Sosa, and his sister, Janet Chavez Santiago, have been promoting the textiles of Oaxaca in the U.S. for the past several years by demonstrating, lecturing, and exhibiting their work at universities, museums and galleries.
This didn’t just happen by happenstance. Eric has been preserving the textile traditions of his people by recording the near-forgotten oral formulas of natural dyes, and has documented over 95 different shades of cochineal alone. We talked with Eric when he was here with us in North Carolina in April about ways he and his family could develop a relationship with the new museum. Perhaps, they could exhibit the Chavez tapestries and teach some classes. We encouraged Eric to call the museum when he got home, to make an appointment with the director, and to drop in for a visit. And that’s exactly what he did in late April. When Eric introduced himself, described the work he had been doing in the U.S. and suggested ways he could help the new museum fulfill its mission, the director took notice, asked Eric to develop a proposal, and got the approval from Dr. Maria Isabel Granen Perrua, one of the founders, to create a new position. What developed was something far more valuable than we first imagined, with farther reaching goals that will touch many more people! especially young people who will learn more about their cultural and textile traditions.
“I am formally in this job now from Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm and 5pm to 7pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 6pm,” Eric said today. “Since the Museum is new, most of the goals have yet to be achieved, especially in my area. I will first be developing the programs to teach children about weaving and natural dyeing, and eventually I will do them for tourists, too.” Then, Eric will develop a program to authenticate the use of natural dyes, so that weavers whose work is created with plant materials and cochineal will be certified. He’ll also be developing exhibitions that show how natural dyes are made. The beauty of the new position is that the museum appreciates the relationships that the Chavez family and Eric have developed in the U.S. He will be able to continue to come to the U.S. for 6 weeks a year to lecture and exhibit at galleries, universities and museums as he has done in the past.
“What can I say,” said Eric. “My first formal job is what I love to do!, I will be able to help more weavers from this position and I hope it all goes smooth and well. I am so happy.” And, why not?
Address: Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Hidalgo 917, Centro Oaxaca, Mexico
Open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.
When you visit, say hello to Eric Chavez.