Oaxaca Through My Eyes

For part of the year, my home is in Teotitlan del Valle,  the famed Zapotec rug weaving village located about 18 miles southeast of Oaxaca City off the Pan American Highway, Mexico Route 190.  I have discovered great weaving, carving and textile families of the region.  Some are “famous” and others are “off the beaten path,” rarely visited by crowded tour buses and commission-compensated guides.

As an artist and educator, I am committed to sustainable development and cultural preservation by supporting, through fair trade and eco-tourism, the richness of indigenous life and what is possible through intercultural exchange.

Throughout the history of humankind, we have adorned ourselves in cloth, metals, jewels and shells, and decorated our shelters, eating and cooking vessels with images that represent the greatest human aspirations and beliefs.

Today, technology and the manufacture of machine-made, low-priced goods threaten to eradicate centuries-old creative practices that are handed down through the generations.

My lifelong interest is in textiles and indigenous arts.  I have combined my university career with a passion for art and the people who make it.   I invite you to join me on this extraordinary journey by visiting Mexico and Oaxaca, and participating in one of the workshops developed and organized throughout the year by Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.


  • Raised in Los Angeles, California, and lived in San Francisco
  • Graduated from California State University at Northridge
  • Earned a Masters Degree in Administration from University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business
  • Creative attributes: Artist, short-fiction writer,  poet and entrepreneur
  • Nationally recognized for innovative University program development
  • Held key positions at Indiana University, University of Virginia, The George Washington University (D.C.), and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Started Oaxaca Cultural Navigator in 2006

Contact me for more information: normahawthorne@mac.com or (919) 274-6194

8 responses to “Oaxaca Through My Eyes

  1. Hola Norma; I’d like to know if there are any printmaking workshops taking place this summer in Oaxaca. I have been redirected to your website multiple times while I research opportunities for artists, as I plan to be there in July. Please let me know any of your recommendations. Gracias, y saludos. MDR

  2. Hi Norma, My wife and I have a ten day trip to Oaxaxa planned starting May 20. I see you live in Teotitlan Del Valle. My friend, Shawn Spitzer moved there over 30 years ago and I don’t know if he is still alive, but I want to try to look him up. Do you know that name? I know he had a weaving business so you might.
    Ten days is too long to just hang out around the Zocalo, so we will want to sign up for some of the available tours.Thank you, Jerry Swallow

  3. I’m an ESL instructor of mostly students from Mexico at Santa Rosa Junior College planning a trip to Oaxaca for the first time at the end of this spring semester.
    Do you have any workshops at the end of May- beginning of June? Also, any recommendations for basic but comfortable accommodations near the Zocalo. Posada Del Centro?

    • Hi, Leslie, thanks for getting contact. I don’t have any workshops scheduled for the end of May or early June, but you are welcome to come to Teotitlan and take a private weaving workshop with Federico Chavez Sosa. We can schedule this based on your travel dates. I don’t know of any specific basic accommodates near the Zocalo. Take a look at Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor. Their recommendations are usually good. Best, Norma

  4. Congratulations, Norma, on winning the recognition of the New York Times so that your fantastic article could be read by more people.
    I was in Oaxaca last month to attend our son’s wedding in Huajuapan de Leon. Huajuapan de Leon will be part of my life from now on. I share your appreciation of the rich heritage and culture of these wonderfully warm people. I can’t understand why I didn’t discover Oaxaca earlier in my life, but now I have “miles to go before I sleep”.

    • Mary, your words touch me. Thank you. The roads are winding and bumpy here. Sometimes dusty, sometimes not. Most often, they lead to something surprising and extraordinary as we both have discovered. Congratulations on your son’s wedding. Our gift of life is to enjoy the moment, and the moment brings us to Oaxaca. It doesn’t matter when. Abrazos, Norma

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