Category Archives: Workshops and Retreats

Pre-Hispanic Women’s Clothing Design: The Huipil Endures

Years ago, after I first arrived in Oaxaca, I discovered an incredible small book by Mexico City fashion designer Carla Fernandez. Taller Flora: Indigenous Dress Making Geometry of Mexico, Pre-Hispanic Origin (2006) is now difficult to come by. But, it has become my bible for easy-to-make, easy-to-wear, comfortable, flowing clothing  that is versatile and beautiful.

The book is also my inspiration because it tickled an idea to develop the             Felt Fashion Workshop several years ago.

During the week-long workshop, January 17-24, 2015, we use naturally dyed merino wool to make wet-felted cloth.  Then, we sew it using the simple  geometric patterns to construct the garments. Our instructor, Maddalena Forcella, is internationally-known for her work.

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The results could be a jacket, a blouse, a shawl or scarf, a dress or a poncho. The quechquemitl is one of my favorites.

I was recently in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I saw jackets, blouses and dresses made with felt, sewn and blocked, selling for $500 to $800 USD and more.  And, United States clothing designer Eileen Fisher uses variations for many of her patterns including the asymmetrical merino poncho priced at $248 USD.

There is more to the huipil than an article of clothing. It is a symbol of womanhood, female creativity and personal experience.

In ancient Mexican culture, each community created identity by weaving a distinctive pattern into the cloth.  And, there were different pattern variations for important life cycle events like weddings , births and baptisms. The woven cloth told a story about the village and the woman who created that particular garment.

Art of the Huipil: Mixed Media Workshop

Scheduled the week before the Felt Fashion Workshop, set to start on January 8, the Art of the Huipil is a hands-on experience taught by artist Lena Bartula. During the five-day session, participants create a huipil based on their own personal stories, using found objects and those we collect during visits to local weavers and markets. The result is a piece of art suitable for hanging, if you wish.

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In January, Oaxaca days are warm and mild.  Evenings are cool and comfortable. We offer a perfect getaway from winter that is safe and affordable.

You do not have to be an experienced artist or seamstress to attend. All levels are welcome.  This is about having fun and opening yourself up to the possibilities of creative self-expression in an encouraging, friendly place.

Questions? Contact Norma Hawthorne.

Art History Tour: Mexican Muralism, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico City

The Mexican Muralists, and especially the art of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are the focus of our Mexico City Art History Tour: Looking for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.  Arrive on November 13 and depart on November 17. DiegoFrida4Group-77 This intensive study tour takes you into off-the-beaten path public art spaces and those that are more popular where Rivera, Orozco and Siquieros worked. DiegoFrida4Group-65 Be prepared to walk, explore, discover, discuss and enjoy the Old World beauty of Mexico’s capital city.  You will learn more in three days about Mexico, her culture and ethos, than you ever imagined, and how Rivera and Kahlo helped define a national identity after the 1910 Revolution. DiegoFrida4Group-84 If you are intrigued by

  • the mystery of Frida’s relationship with her mentor Diego Rivera, whom she married twice,
  • social and political history of pre- and post-revolution Mexico,
  • Mexican Muralist Movement as populist outcry and government tool,
  • Aztec archeology,
  • Colonial and Belle Epoque architecture,
  • Mexico City as a food, culture, and art mecca,

This program is for you!

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Our art historian has postponed her graduate studies in Europe for one year, so we are fortunate to be able to offer this program again.

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If you have never traveled to Mexico City, this is a great introduction to the historic center and Casa Azul, the home Frida and Diego shared. Plus, we visit the Dolores Olmedo Museum that holds the largest collection of Diego’s and Frida’s work.

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Mexico City is easy to fly to from anywhere in the United States and Canada. The city is safe, clean and hospitable.  Our friendly hotel is located just two blocks from the Zocalo, the Palacio Nacional, the Catedral and the Templo Mayor archeological site of the Aztec power center. DiegoFrida4Group-5 Questions?  Contact Norma Hawthorne.  DiegoFrida4Group2-7

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.

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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