Category Archives: Workshops and Retreats

Finding Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo: Photo Highlights

After a week in Mexico City with eight wonderful participants who came along for our Looking for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Art History Study Tour, I came back to Oaxaca to immediately welcome four Australian women, all textile lovers. We have been all over town and out into the craft villages from sunrise to sunset, with more to go!  Sunday, Tlacolula market. Monday, Guelaguetza.

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I must confess I haven’t had a moment to process photos and report on the incredible pre-Guelaguetza activities that make Oaxaca a must-see destination this time of year.  The streets are packed with parades, revelers, music, dance, textile vendors and food.  Yesterday, after circling for over an hour in search of a parking spot (all lots filled, no empty street spaces), instead of sleeping over as I had planned, I gave up and returned to the Teotitlan del Valle casita I call home.

Okay, so here are photo highlights of our Mexico City adventure — a wonderful time was had by all!  Next Art History Study Tour:  August 7-11.  Three spaces open!  This is a great way to ease into discovering Mexico City.

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Several of our travelers had been to other parts of Mexico many times but shied away from the big city.  They discovered that Mexico City is vibrant, safe, rich in art, and has some of the world’s most amazing restaurants.

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It was a really amazing experience for me.  I had never been there before and am left with so much more information and reading to do and historical research to do that it will keep me busy for quite a while. — Susan Sandoval, California

 

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Our art historian, Valeria, is going to Switzerland for advanced study in September, so the August 7-11 repeat study tour will be the last for a while.  It is an amazing introduction to the Mexican Muralists:  Rivera, Orozco and Siquieros, plus provides an in-depth look at the mystique and mastery of Frida Kahlo.

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We enjoy fine dining, market fare, artisan galleries, and much more, too.

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Jess Schreibstein Writes About Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca Weaving Workshop at Fringe Association

Fringe is a common thread for knitters, weavers, sewers and textile artists around the world. It’s a metaphor for finishing the edge, binding off, completion and embellishment.

Here’s what Jess wrote in Fringe Association, a blog for knitters.

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Jess wove this tepete (rug) in four days! A traditional Zapotec feather pattern with naturally dyed wool: cochineal, moss, wild marigold.

Jess Schreibstein came to Oaxaca for a wedding in May.  She wanted to experience something special beyond the wedding celebration.  So she contacted us about taking a four-day Oaxaca Weaving Workshop: Dancing on the Loom with Federico Chavez Sosa and his wife, Lola, in Teotitlan del Valle.

A writer, artist, photographer, cook and founder of the D.C. Food Swap, Jess asked for customized dates that would fit into her travel schedule.  We were happy to make this arrangement for her that included lodging and meals at a local guesthouse.

Here’s what Jess wrote to me about her experience:

I want to thank you personally for organizing such a wonderful trip to Teotitlan and my workshop with Federico.  It was one of the richest weeks of my life, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity that you provided.  Thank you!

twitter: @jschreibstein
instagram: @thekitchenwitch
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If you would like a customized weaving workshop to fit into your travel schedule, please contact us!

 

Art Huipil Mixed Media Workshop Retreat: Explore Your Inner Artist

A  perfect mixed-media art workshop for a getaway in Oaxaca, Mexico! With artist/instructor Lena Bartula. Arrive January 8 and depart January 14. 6 nights and 7 days to explore your inner artist. All-levels, including non-artists, welcome.

Un Fruto Prohibido

The Mesoamerican huipil is an indigenous garment, similar to a blouse. It is woven on the back-strap loom by and for women throughout Mexico and central America, important long before the Spanish conquest. It survives today as an article of clothing that symbolizes womanhood, and identifies origins, family and village lineage.  It serves to conceal and protect, yet its patterns and designs speak and reveal much about the individual creator, her experiences, beliefs and perspectives.

During this five-day workshop retreat, you will be in residence in the indigenous Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, where we explore the traditional meaning of the huipil and reinterpret it for a contemporary context. You will use this article of clothing as a metaphor for social and cultural identity, power of place, and express your inner artist by creating something that is distinctively yours — to hang or display, rather than to wear.

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In the process of making this mixed-media art, you will review your own personal path, the journeys you have taken, the stories you remember, people you know and have shaped you, and form the stories to tell for the future. The huipil becomes your mechanism for self-expression and storytelling. As human beings, we may share similar paths or those that run parallel, intersect or diverge. Life paths digress, slow, stall, explode, or keep a steady state. By participating in this workshop retreat, the experience sparks memory and inspiration to create.

You are encouraged to dream, remember, anticipate, then use an array of materials to construct the huipil. Your huipil may be made of cloth, paper, fabric or a combination, or constructed of something else entirely! You might choose to decorate it with ribbon, buttons, photos, stitching, collected objects, memorabilia, scraps. You may create a literal or abstract interpretation. There is no right or wrong way.

Artist/instructor Lena Bartula will present historical reference and her own personal experiences about the huipil.  She will discuss why she believes that, as both art form and as clothing, the huipil is the perfect container for artful self-expression.

The Program

Day 1: Thursday, January 8: Arrive and check into our Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca B&B. Enjoy a relaxed evening around the outdoor kitchen where our home cook prepares fresh quesadillas with local, organic ingredients.

Day 2, Friday, January 9: We join in an opening circle with welcome, introductions, and workshop overview, then hear a presentation on huipiles, their history and tradition, then see contemporary examples, including the work of the teacher and other artists. We will discuss themes, how story-telling brings alive the concepts, and share ideas from which we will begin our work. After a lunch break, we will visit the community museum and/or artisan workshops for inspiration.

Day 3, Saturday, January 10: We will review and talk about what we found or learned on the first day, then begin to layout the materials and supplies to choose what we will use, and start creating preliminary sketches and designs for the huipil. Lena will demonstrate design options, gluing techniques, collage application, painting and stitching. After lunch, you will being the huipil making process.

Day 4, Sunday, January. 11: Field trip! We go to the Tlacolula market, a scavenging adventure to collect more ideas and materials, look for a wide range of representative examples of huipiles on display that come from throughout Oaxaca state and surrounding areas. The market is a great place to familiarize yourself with huipil shapes, textures, designs and colors of “the cloud people” as the Zapotecs call themselves. It’s also your best shopping adventure! After a market lunch, we return to our B&B, then gather for dinner and talk about the best of the day discoveries.

Day 5, Monday, January 12:  Back in the studio, we will talk about what we found at the market and decide what to and how to add them our art huipil constructions. You will continue working with access to Lena’s expertise and coaching, with more personalized instruction and demonstrations as needed. After lunch, it’s continuing to work on your project in the studio.

Day 6, Tuesday, January 13: Today you put the finishing touches on your art huipil as you work toward completing the project by mid-afternoon. After lunch, we will have a group show and tell, presentation where you will have the optional opportunity to talk about your project, how it developed and evolved. Then, it’s photo time to capture the workshop in an inspiring place with new friends. At dinner, we will wrap up with a grand finale celebration.

Day 7: Wednesday, January 14: We say our goodbyes and depart for home after breakfast.

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What to Bring: Materials List

  • Copies of photographs, found objects or treasured memorabilia
  • Favorite art supplies, ie; paints, pencils, markers, tissue paper, scissors, brushes, specialty papers
  • Apron or work shirt
  • A sturdy, large cardboard envelope, portfolio or tube to transport your art huipil home

 Materials we provide:

  • The huipil structure itself – you can choose canvas or paper or cloth or a combination
  • A selection of ephemera and specialty papers
  • Needles and thread, glue, wire
  • Scraps of cloth, yarn, reeds

We’ll stitch, glue, wire, draw, collage and paint until your personal art huipil is complete and ready to go home with you.

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In creating our own huipil, we talk about using it as a container, where acceptance, forgiveness and transformation have a place to co-exist.

About LENA BARTULA

A visual artist for more than thirty-five years, Lena Bartula moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2004 to Mexico, where she lives and works full-time in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. Her repertoire includes painting, installation, printmaking, constructions, book arts and mixed media, as ‘autobiographical symbolist abstraction.’

Lena’s art often combines imagery and pattern, textured layers, and words or letters in English or Spanish, inspired by her own poetry or that of other writers. The huipil, an indigenous blouse in the Mayan and Aztec tradition, called her attention to the ‘why’ of writing one’s personal and collective history in symbols. Out of this was born a series of contemporary huipiles, a tribute to women whose voices and visions have historically been silenced or suppressed.

As a conceptual artist, she creates most of her work from an original idea, and after much deliberation and research, chooses her materials and techniques accordingly. The relationship of words, like text and textile, are instrumental in formulating ideas, and although technically she is neither a weaver nor paper maker, these traditional crafts play a major role in her work on this series. Sewing has become a method of ‘weaving together’ ideas, and Bartula has been known to stitch disparate materials such as leaves, maps, plastic and corn husks.

She considers art making as a way to speak of beauty, truth, spirit, joy, pain, justice, everything that this human life entails. Her works are shown in museums and galleries throughout the world, in her San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, studio/gallery, and are found in collections in France, Italy, Great Britain, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Guatemala and Mexico.

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What Past Participants Say About Lena Bartula

“At first I worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with ideas, but once I let my mind relax and opened it to all the possibilities that the materials offered, the ideas and the work flowed along. Lena is so helpful with suggestions, and I love her style of teaching.”  - Irene 

“I have wanted to work with Lena for many years now and was thrilled when she announced the Huipil Workshop. What a pleasure to work for two days with others making personal art. Between the surroundings and Lena’s supportive, guiding presence my vision for what might be was surpassed. YES!” –Patricia 

“After signing up I found myself very occupied remembering my entire life and mentally searching for ways to represent it tangibly. Gathering my materials, I traveled to Mexico from Guatemala, and what a joy! Lena is a gentle inspiration as a workshop leader and a lovely person. The group was compatible as we all worked and talked and shared. And each of us had a rewarding and big start on the final image we created at the workshop to take home.” –Judy 

“I was lucky to hear about Lena’s workshop in time to attend and enjoyed every minute in her particular and beautiful world of visual art. Working with new materials and concepts I learned to expand my creative horizons and now feel inspired to take risks, think way outside my various boxes and deeply contemplate my creative path.” –Kathleen

Cost to Participate:

  • $895 per person double occupancy, shared bath
  • $1,195 per person single occupancy, private bath

(Note: Non-residential tuition offered at $765 per person for local daily commuters. This option does not include daily lodging, breakfast or dinner.)

Workshop Retreat includes: all instruction, some materials as specified in the daily schedule, 6 nights lodging, 6 breakfasts, 6 dinners.

Your registration fee does NOT include airfare, taxes, admissions to museums and archeological sites, tips, liquor/alcoholic beverages, lunches, transportation, and insurance.

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About Our Workshops, Retreats and Programs.  We offer educational programs that are hands-on, fun, culturally sensitive, and offer you an immersion experience.   Our workshop leaders are experts in their field, knowledgeable, have teaching experience and guide you in the learning process.  Our goal is to enhance your knowledge while giving you time to explore and discover.

About Lodging and Sense of Place: To keep this trip affordable and accessible, we stay in a local posada/guest house in Teotitlan del Valle. The food is all house made (including the tortillas), safe to eat and delicious. Vegetarian options are available.  Our workshop space is outdoors, al fresco, in the patio courtyard. We look over blooming bougainvillea to the mountain-tops beyond, There are walking and hiking trails, opportunities to visit local weavers and craft artisans, and plenty of time for reflection.

Insurance Required:  We require proof of international travel insurance that covers accidents, with $50,000 of emergency medical evacuation to the U.S.A. or your home country is required by all participants.  Thank you for your understanding.

Deposits, Reservations and Cancellations.  A 50% deposit is required to guarantee your spot.  The last payment for the balance due (including any supplemental costs) shall be paid by November 15, 2014.  We only accept payment with PayPal.  We will send you an invoice as soon as you tell us you are ready to register.

If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email.   After December 1, 2014, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space.  Your registration is transferable to a substitute.  If you cancel before November 15, we will refund 50% of your deposit.

To register or for questions, contact: normahawthorne@mac.com

Oaxaca Art + Archeology with Chiapas Add-On: Study Tour with Penland School of Crafts

Travel and learn with Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC in collaboration with Penland School of Crafts, one of the foremost centers for art and craft education in the United States. This is an unparalleled opportunity to study  folk art, craft and contemporary art of Oaxaca, with an option to extend your time to explore San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas and surrounding Maya villages.  An in-depth indigenous Mexico educational experience.

  • Registration Deadline: November 15, 2014
  • Only 12 spaces available!

Oaxaca–February 12-19, 2015: 7 nights and 8 days of cultural immersion and discovery! Archeology, food, contemporary and folk art, wood carving, pottery, weaving and Carnival celebrations. The best of the best! Starting at $3,285 double occupancy, includes lodging, most meals and transportation, and a tax-deductible $500 gift to Penland School of Crafts.  Single occupancy option: $3,695.

Every minute of the trip has been a teaching in every aspect.Most valuable to me has been sharing with you and learning so much!! – Elizabeth Steinvorth

Optional: Add-on Chiapas.  Depart Oaxaca on February 19, travel overnight from Oaxaca to San Cristobal de Las Casas on a luxury bus with reclining seats.  Arrive in Chiapas in time for breakfast,  textile talk and orientation walk!

Add-on Chiapas–February 20-25, 2015: 5 nights and 5 full days to explore the land of the Maya — archeology, textiles, traditional medicine, precious stones and jewelry making traditions.  We are based in San Cristobal de Las Casas at the crossroads of the Maya world, an international mountain town of outstanding beauty. Our host is luxurious boutique LaJoya Hotel. We offer two levels of accommodations there: Single occupancy Platinum-level luxe, $2,695. Single occupancy Gold-level luxe, $2,395. For double occupancy, we offer Bronze-level semi-luxe, $1,845 at a nearby hotel. Choose your comfort level!

Contact Norma Hawthorne by email to receive your registration form or get your questions answered.

Penland School of Crafts is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and was founded on the principles and values of preserving and promulgating the rich folk art traditions of the local culture. In keeping with these roots, we offer you a week-long study tour to explore the indigenous world of Oaxaca, Mexico, with a six-day add-on option to Chiapas, Mexico. Here art and craft have flourished for centuries.

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Oaxaca and Chiapas mountains are scattered with remote indigenous villages where amazing art is created in the tradition of the ancestors. Every piece has a back-story and is a testimony to the creativity and beauty that is Mexico today. We invite you to become a part of this exciting, personalized program.

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I have greater respect for the people and their talent and family values. Incredibly beautiful art work. – Lee Ellis

I know now that I can be comfortable and enjoy traveling where I do not speak the language. Some of my preconceived ideas about Mexico were incorrect. – Edna McKee

During our week together in Oaxaca, you will

  • discover or better know the 16th century Spanish colonial city of Oaxaca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • meet ceramic, textile, and wood-carving artists and artisans
  • meet contemporary artists in their studios and discover a vibrant international art scene
  • visit a Zapotec village where pre-Lenten Carnivale is celebrated with extravagant costumes and energetic revelry
  • spend the day in Ocotlan to better know the art of Rodolfo Morales
  • explore famed Zapotec archeological sites with an expert English-speaking guide
  • sample local cuisine during a cooking class with one of Oaxaca’s best known teachers
  • dine at some of Oaxaca’s greatest restaurants and meet the chefs
  • see Oaxaca like an insider through the eyes of Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator

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Oaxaca, Mexico Itinerary — February 12-19

Day 1: Thursday, February 12. Participants will travel independently from their home city and arrive at the Oaxaca, Mexico, international airport. If you come directly from Houston, you will clear customs and immigration in Oaxaca. If you connect through Mexico City, you will clear customs and immigration there before boarding your connecting flight to Oaxaca. We will send you a complete travel guide one month before the program date. When you give us your flight arrival information, we will arrange private transportation to meet you at the airport and bring you a short distance to our Oaxaca city B&B. If you arrive in time, meet us in the lobby at 8:00 p.m. for a light supper, if you wish. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Oaxaca.

Day 2: Friday, February 13. After breakfast, we will be transported along the Ocotlan Folk Art and Crafts Route to visit the home and museum of famed Oaxaca artist Rofolfo Morales, the lively weekly market where locals shop, and see the exquisite work of embroiderers, potters and sculptors.  A gala welcome dinner ends our day. (B, L, D)

Day 3: Saturday, February 14. The contemporary art scene in Oaxaca is considered by experts to be among the best in Mexico. We have arranged a day of meeting painters and lithographers in their studios to discuss and see their work, and learn more about Oaxaca’s rich art culture. In late afternoon, we depart for the weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle. Overnight at a family-owned guest house for a taste of the more humble village life. (B, D)

Day 4: Sunday, February 15. After a hearty, homemade breakfast, we go to the outstanding archeological sites of Mitla and Yagul, then visit the home studio of a master weaver who will demonstrate tapestry weaving on the two-harness pedal loom. You will see a natural dye demonstration and make your own cochineal-dyed silk scarf.  Then, we will visit a family who cultivates their own silkworms, hand-spins and dyes the silk, and then weaves it into stunning clothing. Overnight in Teotitlan del Valle. (B, L, D)

Day 5: Monday, February 16. Following breakfast, we take a cooking class with one of Oaxaca’s outstanding cooking teachers. She will take us on a walking tour of the  market where we will shop for fresh ingredients, then work together with her guidance to prepare a delicious traditional repast that includes, of course, one of Oaxaca’s famous mole dishes and a mezcal tasting. After lunch, we return to Oaxaca by private van. (B, L)

Day 6: Tuesday, February 17.  It’s Fat Tuesday and Carnival Time in Oaxaca. The Mardi Gras costumed parade in the village of San Martin Tilcajete rivals pre-Lenten festivities around the world.  Join the locals who know what revelry is all about as we follow the king and queen of Carnival through village streets, dancing all the way. We will enjoy a delicious lunch together at a locally-owned restaurant before we return to Oaxaca. (B, L)

Day 7: Wednesday, February 18.  Archeology and artisanry is our focus as we visit famed master craftsmen in Atzompa, the pottery-making village, and Arrazola, the alebrije-making village where wood carvers and painters create fanciful mythical animals and replicate scenes of village life. You will see demonstrations and meet the grand masters of Oaxaca Folk Art.  Just outside of Oaxaca city lays the stunning and important Zapotec archeological site of Monte Alban. The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago considers this to be the finest example of social and government organization in Meso-america. Sturdy walking shoes and walking sticks encouraged! (B, L)

Day 8:  Thursday, February 19.  Some of you will depart Oaxaca and return to your homes.  Others will stay on with us to take the overnight luxury bus to Chiapas for the next leg of our adventure. (B)

Norma is not only knowledgeable, she is part of the local community. Her deep connection to the people made for a rich experience. – Jane Crowe

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$3,285 per person double occupancy. $3,685 for a single supplement. Includes $500 per person tax-deductible gift to Penland School of Crafts.

Register Today. Contact us to receive a registration form. Have Questions? Ask Norma Hawthorne at normahawthorne@mac.com

Chiapas, Mexico Itinerary — February 19-25

Day 1: Thursday, February 19.  Luxury overnight bus from Oaxaca to San Cristobal de Las Casas (B)

Day 2: Friday, February 20. Check in to our San Cristobal de Las Casas Hotel. At breakfast, we will meet a local expert who will talk about Maya textiles and Chiapas textile traditions. Then we’ll take a walking cultural orientation tour of the compact, pedestrian-friendly city.  After a group lunch, you will have time to recharge before we visit folk-healer Sergio Castro and his private museum.  Overnight SCDLC. (B, L, D)

Day 3: Saturday, February 21: During breakfast, we will introduce you to the history of ancient Maya jewelry design and adornment, visit the Jade and Textile museums, and enjoy a Market Meander after lunch. There is nothing so tantalizing as the outdoor crafts market in San Cristobal de Las Casas, where vintage and new textiles, clothing, home goods, clay sculpture, beadwork and lots more capture your senses. Overnight SCDLC. (B, L)

Day 4: Sunday, February 22: The magical indigenous church in San Juan Chamula blends Spanish Catholicism with local folk beliefs. After breakfast and a discussion about Maya mysticism, we will visit the church and local market, then stop at Zinacantan where colorful flowers grow in greenhouses and are the theme of intricately embroidered cloth that are sewn into skirts (faldas) and shawls (chals).  (B, L)

Day 5: Monday, February 23: Today, we study Chiapas archeology and documentary photography through the eyes of husband-wife explorers Frans Blom and Gertrude Duby-Blom, who worked with Maya Lacandon people starting in the 1920′s.  Their home museum, Na Bolom, the jaguar house, tells the story of early archeological work in Mexico. After an optional lunch at the museum cafe, you will have time to explore San Cristobal de Las Casas on your own. (B)

Day 6: Tuesday, February 24: The Maya archeological site of Tonina is not as well-traveled as nearby Palenque, but many say it is equally as stunning and outstanding treasures have been excavated there. This all-day adventure will take us from the mountain highlands to semi-tropical lowlands to explore this extraordinary site whose pyramids are the most vertical in the Maya world. And, yes, you can climb them! After a picnic lunch, we make our way back to SCDLC with a stop at the back-strap loom weaving village of Oxchuc where textiles are embellished in shimmering metallic threads.  Our study tour ends with a grand farewell dinner and many memories to share.  (B, L, D)

Day 7: Wednesday, February 25:  After breakfast, transfer from San Cristobal de Las Casas to Tuxtla Gutierrez to board your flights back to your home country.

Ready to Register? Contact Norma Hawthorne.

The entire time was so interesting and full of fun. So much we got to experience would never had happened if we had come on our own. Norma made all the difference with her knowledge and sensitivity of the culture, and all her local friends, who obviously adore her!!! – Lynn Nichols

About Norma Hawthorne. Norma started Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC in 2006 and began offering weaving and natural dyeing workshops in the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, where she now lives part of the year. Soon after, she expanded program offerings to include women’s creating writing, yoga, photography, and other forms of textile and fiber arts workshops. In 2011, she retired from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she raised $23 million for the School of Nursing, and directed the School’s marketing and communications. Before that, she had a 25-year career in higher education continuing education and marketing at Indiana University, The University of Virginia, and The George Washington University. Norma holds the B.A. in history from California State University at Northridge and the M.S. from The University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. A lover of indigenous textiles, Norma started weaving with naturally dyed wool in San Francisco, collected Amish Folk Art textiles which she recently donated to the Indiana State Museum, owned and operated a gourmet cookware shop and cooking school, and fell in love with Oaxaca arts and artisans when she first visited there in 2005. See Norma’s resume.

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This trip illustrates the value of having a local contact who has a passionate, personal interest and extensive knowledge abut a place, a subject and contacts with people. That’s what made the trip unique, dynamic, rich and transformative. It would not have been possible to have had this experience without Norma – and her energy, generosity and great spirit. Thank you so much! — Barbara Benisch

ReynaAmarilloMetate2 ReynaSaladIngredLodging/Accommodations. In Oaxaca, we have selected highly rated, elegant, upscale accommodations for you where we will spend five nights at Casa Las Bugambilias B&B.  We will also spend two nights at family-owned and operated guest house in Teotitlan del Valle to give you a flavor of humble village life.

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Oaxaca Study Tour Cost: The basic cost for the trip is $3,285. USD. This includes seven nights lodging shared occupancy with private bath, six breakfasts, four lunches, three dinners, transportation to/from airport and activities as noted in the itinerary, site entry fees, all instruction, and a $500 tax-deductible contribution to Penland School of Crafts.

  • OAX 1: Shared double room with private bath; $3,285.
  • OAX 2: Single Supplement, private room with private bath; $3,685.

Chiapas Study Tour Cost:  Three options available. Choose your comfort level. In Chiapas our luxury boutique La Joya Hotel, will host there. Here there are five single suites with king-size bed accommodations for Platinum and Gold-level travelers.  Double, shared rooms are in a nearby upscale colonial-style hotel.

  • CO1: $2,695. Platinum-level luxe single room, premium amenities
  • CO2: $2,395, Gold-level luxe single room, special amenities
  • CO3: $1,845, Bronze-level semi-luxe double occupancy share

The cost does NOT include airfare and related taxes, tips/gratuities, travel insurance, liquor/alcoholic beverages, and some meals as specified in the itinerary.

Please make your 50% deposit check payable to Norma Hawthorne, OCN-LLC and mail to Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC, c/o Jacob Singleton, 17052 Leslie Lane, Suite D, Huntington Beach, CA 92649 or tell us you want to pay by credit card and we will send you a PayPal invoice via email. PayPal transactions are online, safe and secure.

Dolores with Shadows Doug_03.2 DSC_0081.JPGReservations and Cancellations. Please understand that we make lodging and transportation arrangements months in advance of the program. Our hosts often require deposits or payments in full to guarantee reservations. If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email. After November 15, 2014, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space or you may send a substitute. If you cancel on or before November 15, we will refund 50% of your deposit.

We require that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, and $50,000 mimimum emergency medical evacuation insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.

Ready to Register? Tell Norma at normahawthorne@mac.com Have Questions? Ask Norma at normahawthorne@mac.com.

All the workshops were terrific, talented, committed, skilled and well-prepared, thoughtful and easy to work with, generous and passionate…I am inspired to go home and do more work. – Barbara Benisch

This program is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC in cooperation with Penland School of Crafts. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary and make substitutions as necessary.

A Word About How to Get There Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC, based in North Carolina, U.S.A., has offered arts workshops and cultural immersion experiences in Oaxaca, Mexico, since 2006. Many participants often travel independently to reach Oaxaca on a direct flight from the gateway city of Houston, Texas, on United Airlines. Other major U.S. airlines connect to AeroMexico in Mexico City, which offers several flights a day to Oaxaca. Delta operates a Code Share with AeroMexico. The international airport at Oaxaca is new, safe and clean, as is the Mexico City airport. Our trusted Oaxaca airport pick-up service will personally greet you as you depart from baggage claim.

Note: Tips may be given to your local guides, instructors, and service providers throughout the trip. The recommended tip is 50 pesos per day for each provider per person. Be sure to collect your belongings from your room and check the Safety Deposit Box. Have your Passport, Mexico Exit Visa, and Plane Tickets ready!  You must have at least six months remaining on a valid U.S. passport to enter Mexico.

Please Note: This is a working itinerary, is subject to change and may be modified as we confirm final details for the trip. Be assured that any changes made will only enhance the program and add to your total experience. Thank you for your understanding!

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Rain Torrents and New Priest in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

The heavens opened yesterday afternoon to welcome a new priest to Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. Perhaps, the ancient Zapotecs, in their infinite wisdom, said a special prayer for the rain god, too.  It is corn-planting season.

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The torrents came just as the celebration was to begin in the church courtyard, starting with a procession of young girls, soon-to-be women, with symbolic religious baskets to carry atop their heads. Needless to say, everyone ran for cover and the procession start was delayed. It rained about eight inches in less than an hour and a flood ensued

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This is a very special occasion.  Very.  It has been decades, perhaps longer than most can remember here, even the grandmothers, that a Catholic priest has been assigned to perform permanent, regular service for the village.  The regional religious center for the area is in the neighboring village of Tlacochahuaya, and one circuit priest has served many villages in the valley, scheduling religious rites according to who needs what, when.

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Everyone in Teotitlan del Valle is ecstatic.  In honor of this event, there is a mass this morning (Saturday) followed by tamales for everyone. I’m told the village expects more than 3,000 people in the church courtyard this afternoon.

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As is customary, the occasion will be marked by Los Danzantes, the famed group of young men who make a three-year church commitment to serve God through performing the Dance of the Feather whenever the volunteer church committee calls on them.

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For the girls, this, too, is a special occasion. For some of them, it will be the first time they will have participated in a desfile and it means a lot. They wear colorful hand-embroidered blouses, traditional woven wool wrap skirts usually dyed with cochineal and tied with a wool sash adorned with pom poms.  This is what the grandmothers wear every day. But times are changing and the dress is worn only for ceremonial purposes by the younger generations.

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In the photograph directly above, you can see the girls gathered, with the heavy canastas or baskets resting on the ground.  They are waiting for the procession to begin.  To the right, on the pillar of the inner courtyard of the church, is a Zapotec stone carving taken from the temple on the site and embedded into the church wall by the Spanish to attract the locals to the new religion.

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The rites of passage in Mexico has been an important part of indigenous culture for centuries.  The roots of these celebrations pre-date the conquest and one can imagine what it may have been like during the time of the Aztecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs at the height of their civilizations by being here now.

That’s why it’s so meaningful to participate as a visitor. Please consider: