Tag Archives: art

One-Day Mixed Media Art Workshop: Personal Altars and Shrines

  • One Day, February 25, 2016, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. OR
  • One Day, February 26, 2016, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fee: $35 USD/650 MXN pesos OR take both days for $65 USD/1220 MXN pesos

You do not need to have an art background to participate. This is about having fun, exploring and experimentation! All levels welcome.

Oaxaca is filled with altars that include sacred images and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Day of the Dead family altars display photographs of departed loved ones.  Frida Kahlo collected altars and ex-votos. She is a perfect subject for an altar you might create — an icon in her own right! You could make a memory altar in tribute to a departed loved one or in honor of a family member or friend. You might also make a self-portrait altar — what would you include?

Frida with monkey copy 800 kb self-portrait-with-necklace-of-thorns   

Your personal altar can be based on experience, travels, relationships. Your altar might contain a message to send or be a gift.  If you are visiting Oaxaca, it can be a memorabilia altar or a token to give to a friend when you return home.

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About Hollie Taylor, MFA, Workshop Leader

Hollie Taylor earned the BFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focusing on painting and printmaking. She then went on to the University of Georgia and received the MFA with a concentration in printmaking.

Hollie taught drawing, printmaking, painting and ceramics at the college, middle and high school levels. For over 20 years, she has taught adult workshops in handmade paper-making, screen-printing, woodcutting, photo-imaging on clay, ceramic hand-building, mixed media art and art journaling.  

She is a recipient of the North Carolina Museum of Art annual artist scholarship award. Her work is published in Art Voices South. She earned the prestigious National Board Certification for Teaching Excellence and her students placed repeatedly in national shows. 

Art produced at Hollie’s workshops is highly individualistic, broad ranging in style and expressive of the maker. Participants come to the table with varied past creative experiences and she accommodates fully for this range of novice to accomplished artist. She gives personal feedback and encouragement and holds informal discussions to compare intent with outcome. A workshop with Hollie is engaging and fun!

 

Where is the workshop held?

We will hold this workshop at a comfortable private home with courtyard and terrace workshop space in Teotitlan del Valle. Space is limited. If you are coming from Oaxaca city, you may want to share a taxi or take a collectivo. We can give you the names of Teotitlan taxi drivers to make your plans easy. Directions provided after registration.

We can order in lunch at 150 pesos per person additional, if you wish.

Materials Fee and What to Bring

Materials fee: 100 MXN pesos. We give you a 4″x 5″ altar box pre-constructed and ready to decorate. We also give selected art supplies, glue, and other basic materials. Materials fee can be paid on the day of the workshop.

You Bring: Found objects, magazines, a pencil, embellishments such as stamps, charms, shells, milagros, copies of photographs, textiles, anything that conjures up Oaxaca, Frida, or something personal! Participants often like to share what they bring.

8.Frida.Paint altar parts with acrylic ink.800KBcopy

 

Rolling on Matte Medium to seal the foam core.

Rolling on Matte Medium to seal the foam core.

Reservations and Cancellations. The full fee of $35 per day is paid in advance to guarantee your spot. We accept payment with PayPal only.  Tell us you are ready to register and we will send you an invoice. After your reservation is made and you find you are unable to attend, you may send a friend in your place. If you prefer to make your payment in MXN pesos, we will make arrangements to meet you in advance to handle this.

This retreat is produced by Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

A Return to Oaxaca

I’ve returned to Oaxaca after being gone for almost six weeks. It’s warm here — cotton and linen weather. Much warmer than Mexico City where layers of wool are needed for protection from the chill. They tell me today it will be eighty-eight degrees fahrenheit. The snowbirds are happy.

In Teotitlan del Valle, where the last dance of the three-year commitment for this Dance of the Feathers group was on December 12 for the Virgin of Guadalupe, I stayed home. I needed time to absorb what life will be after our mother’s death, what it means to live fully and in service to others, and to reflect on life and death.

My Zapotec friend Abraham tells me, “Todos vamos por el mismo camino.” We all go on the same road.

My Zapotec friend Lupita says, “Es la ley de la vida.”  It’s the law of life.

This is comforting as I look out onto the mountains and vast clear blue sky from the rooftop terrace. As I feel the sun on my back. As the sacred mountain Picacho reaches skyward just beyond my reach.

And, then, I walk the streets of the city where Christmas lights wink and twinkle, big tinsel stars suspended from buildings say to me what matters most is now.

I see things with particular focus: a broken windshield sending a million sparkles through the refraction like shooting stars.

Here hot pink juicy flowers bloom in December. I stop for a different view of Santo Domingo church. Take a coffee break at the Oaxaca Coffee Company on the side street nearby where it is quieter.

 

Next is a stop to the Museo Textil de Oaxaca where a small but exquisite rebozo exhibition shows us the talent of artisans around the world, with a focus on Mexico and the extraordinary ikat cloth woven here.

Finally, I meet the two young artists from India who I am mentoring through a joint program between the governments of Mexico and India, helping them win residency grants.

 

They arrived in early November, just as I was leaving for California. Nidhi works in interpretive textiles, and her husband Ruchin is a muralist, street and graphic artist. I took them to meet Fernando Sandoval in his studio and my day was complete. They will be here until early February. Still lots to see and do.

Fernando and his team were working on color registrations for a new series by Sergio Hernandez called Alice in Wonderland. Oaxaca has a rich graphic arts community and Sergio is at the leading edge.

Soon, my family will arrive and we will celebrate this season together. I just saw them during my mother’s passing. This visit will be different.

Memoir Writing Workshop in Oaxaca, March 2016

I’ve now moved over almost completely to using the smaller, lightweight Olympus OMD 5 Mark II mirrorless digital camera. I think the results are almost equal to my Nikon. While I’m using the Aperture Priority setting and not full manual, I feel that I have pretty good control over light and shutter speed so I can get the photo I want. But, the experiment continues!

 

 

Mascaras Mexicanas: Mexican Masks — Dances, Dieties, Identity

A new temporary special exhibition at the Palacio Nacional (National Palace) on the Zocalo in Mexico City features hundreds of hand-made masks from towns and villages throughout Mexico.

This is the same building that houses Diego Rivera murals, so if you go there soon, don’t miss this. Enter on side street through security, go to second floor.

 

I returned on my last day in the Federal District and spent about an hour-and-a-half learning more about Mexican art and culture. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In ancient civilizations one of the main functions of ritual masks was to represent gods to worship them in religious celebrations. This was designed to support natural and social equilibrium.

 

In pre-Hispanic Mexico, masks served as elements of transformation that allowed rulers and priests to assume the identity of their gods during ritual ceremonies.  This helped bridge communication between the spiritual and natural world.

 The gold mask, above right, was found in a Monte Alban, Oaxaca tomb.

Sculptures, reliefs, murals and figurines from throughout Mesoamerica show ancient members of the elite personifying deities with the masks and attire that empowered them.

If you come with us on Looking for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Art History Study Tour in February or March, you can drop in to see this show.

According to the exhibition curators, since the time of the Spanish conquest in 1521, the invaders prevented pre-Hispanic civilizations from freely practicing their religious customs. The conquistadores imposed their will by force. The Catholic religious friars sought to supplant native ancestral traditions by incorporating Christian ideas into native rituals.

 

Despite these efforts, pre-Hispanic symbols survived and indigenous people continue to observe their ancient religion under the veil of Catholicism.  New masks arose from this cultural mixing (mestizaje) with an original combination of symbols that continue to the present in many regions throughout Mexico.

 

This provides continuity for ceremonial and celebratory traditions.  Many communities throughout Mexico, such as Teotitlan del Valle, where I live, practice rites and dances like Dance of the Feather (Danza de la Pluma) from viceregal times in which costumes and masks play a central role in the celebrations.

        La Malinche mask, left, called Maringuilla bonita, is from the Purepecha Danza de los Viejitos, Michoacan. Here she appears as a sweet, modest young woman.  To the right is Moor Mask from the Sierra Norte, Oaxaca, with eyelashes and red cheeks depicting cultural exoticism.

 

The masks are handmade from gold, precious stones such as jade, turquoise, malachite and coral, wood, paper, straw, textiles and other materials. All the indigenous people of Mexico, including Aztecs, Mayans, Zapotecs, Purepechas and others used them.

 

Sacred dances in pre-Hispanic Mexico were ceremonies of invocation that found resonance in Catholicism as indigenous people were folded into the Spanish concept of small towns or barrios under the sponsorship of patron saints.

  Right, Huichol mask from the Sierra Madre of Jalisco. The Huichol people do intricate beadwork.

Indigenous people adopted and venerated these saint along with their own ancestors and pre-Hispanic deities. Friars promoted village feast days during the liturgical calendar and introduced morality plays. These were dramas based on sacred history and events that focused on the struggle between good and evil.

 

Often featured in these dances are masks representing Judas, Jews, Moors and the devil. The purpose of this was to instill fear and respect in the local population along with the message that they were defeated and obliged to strictly obey the new religion. I have no personal evidence today of any anti-Semitism in Mexico, that continues to welcome dissidents and disenfranchised.

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We see in the Hall of Festivals at the Secretary of Public Education Building in Mexico City, many of these celebrations painted by Diego Rivera in his murals. Masks in this exhibit depict the Deer Dance from Sinaloa, also featured by Rivera.

  La mascara posee un extraño poder de sugestiøn sobre la imaginaciøn … es la sintesis, la               esencia de la deidad, del demonio, muerto o héroe qu se trata de representar.                           — Miguel Covarrubias

           The mask has a strange power of suggestion on the imagination … it is the                                    synthesis, and represents the essence of deity, demon, death or hero.                                           — Miguel Covarrubias

The exhibition takes a step beyond the traditional to include the work of Mexican contemporary artists who work in various media. This painting (below) by Frida Kahlo, My Nanny and Me, is on loan for this exhibition from its home at the Dolores Olmedo Museum.

Evoking Frida Kahlo: Making Altars and Shrines Art Workshop

The painting is part of this exhibition because of the masked wet-nurse representing indigenous culture that provides sustenance.

 

Also included are the work of artists Francisco Toledo (paper mask) and Germån Cueto (wood mask), and painters and printmakers whose names I didn’t record (sorry).

   

Today, we often hide behind the mask we present to the world as a way of self-protection, self-preservation. In the days before the popularity of mask-wearing for Halloween, the mask was a symbol for deception, hypocrisy, and lies.

Instead, we can hide behind a straight face, make-up, choice of clothing to present who we are — to project “our face” outward. It is interesting to think that an exhibition of this type can cause each of us to ask the question, Who am I?How do I present myself and how am I “seen” in the world?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Frida Kahlo: Icon of Passion and Pain

We ended the four-day Looking for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Art History Study Tour in Mexico City with a morning at Casa Azul and the Frida Kahlo Museum followed by an afternoon at the Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum. (I’ll be setting 2016 dates soon. Contact me to be notified.)

A few little nips

Frida Kahlo is a great source of inspiration and admiration. I see Frida differently each time I visit her home and look deeper into her art. Many are self-portraits about her accident, deformities, wish to be a mother, miscarriages and marital infidelities. Her work is honest and vulnerable.

Evoking Frida Kahlo: Making Memory Altars and Shrines

Consider making a self-portrait altar — a visual memoir!

Art historians and her admiring public describe her work as intensely personal and something we can all relate to, which is why, even today, her following is immense. She is compared to a contemporary Virgin of Guadalupe.

 

On this visit I was most interested in capturing close-up photographs of some of Frida’s most important works that are on exhibit. I am also continuing to experiment with my new Olympus OMD5 Mark II mirrorless camera that I used to take all the photos here.

 

We will repurpose the images for a 4-day mixed media art workshop, February 25-28, 2016.

Evoking Frida Kahlo: Making Memory Altars and Shrines

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In this mixed media art workshop, led by North Carolina artist Hollie Taylor, participants will build an altar or shrine to remember loved ones or to honor Frida Kahlo, feminist icon of passion and pain.

You can also use the workshop to make a self-portrait altar, incorporating images and experiences from your own life, much like a visual memoir.

 

We look at Frida’s life as an example. She was a woman of strength and complexity. While she lived with intense chronic pain, both physical and emotional, her face to the world successfully hid her deformities and shaped her identity. We see this in the Casa Azul exhibit, Appearances Can Be Deceiving.

  

A new documentary film shown at Casa Azul tells the story of Frida, a woman who has become a contemporary role model, honored for her courage and honesty, and for her ability to paint with emotion as a tool for self-reflection and healing.

Evoking Frida Kahlo: Making Memory Altars and Shrines gives us a chance to personally interpret Frida’s life and employ it as a jumping off point to create our own art altar in memory of Frida or our own special someone. Frida’s courage and obstacles, successes and set-backs are a metaphor for all of us.

  

It offers us an opportunity, through art, to explore identity, image, impression, impact, intent. To create an art altar is to interpret and to understand, to reveal what is hidden, to emotionally connect in a very visual way, and to offer homage.

  

Akin to the Mexican approach to death and dying through Day of the Dead, by building a memory altar or shrine, we create a space where we embrace and examine a loved one’s life using photos and memorabilia.

Consider making a self-portrait altar — a visual memoir!

 

Chromatica at MACO Oaxaca: New Sounds, Ancient Textures

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Inside the courtyard at MACO, once a conqueror’s palace

Chromatica, a multi-media art exhibition created by Guggenheim award-winning Mexican artist Tania Candiani, opened last weekend in Oaxaca at the Museo Arte de Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO).  The exhibition takes a new approach to sight and sound.

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Chromatics is about how we communicate through music and color. It can be considered the interdisciplinary intersection between technology and art. Candiani explores the differences and similarities between language systems, sound and the logics of technology through her work.

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This is interpretive, intuitive and not always “in your face” evident through the various experiences of this exhibition that stimulates and questions the visual and auditory senses. The result is to create an emotional experience that could be somewhat uncomfortable.

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Old loom as modern sound machine

First is the sound of the traditional two-harness pedal loom used to weave serapes and rugs in Teotitlan del Valle.  At the opening, three Mendoza family weavers stood at looms in the courtyard with microphones recording the sounds of their creativity. They wove fast, slow, in harmony and not.

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Javier and friend from Teotitlan del Valle, with natural colors

We could hear the beating of the treadles, loud, soft, harsh, subtle, the whoosh of the shuttle going through the heddles, the rhythms of wood against wool. The recordings can be heard in one of the exhibition rooms along with an abstract video of the work in progress. For how much longer will we hear this sound?

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Upstairs on the second floor of the museum, we see the historical elements used to prepare the wool.  The dyestuffs: cochineal, indigo and pericone (wild marigold). We see ancient stone grinders where people kneeled to prepare the powder. We see embroidery hoops embellished in red, blue and yellow, telling the story of the colors as recorded in the pre-Hispanic codices.

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Metates, manos de metates and cochineal powder

But there is more than meets the eye:  tone poems of color embroidered onto cloth that tell of the modern experience of traditional color in a changing, mechanized world. What does blue evoke? How does red make us feel? What is the human labor needed to give us these colors that we take for granted and enjoy?

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As the crowd gathered around an ancient loom converted into a sound box, people took turns cranking the take-up roll, traditionally used to wind the cloth as it is woven. In this structure, it turned the wheel to produce sounds. The “thread” was string — as in violin or piano.

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A cochineal painted room of breeding cactus gives us a sense of how many of these bugs are needed to color just one rug or garment. The color intensity penetrates.

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Old hand carders against a backdrop of blue

Questions? Did the exhibition go far enough? Were the exhibits as interesting as they could have been? All the explanations were in Spanish with no English “subtitles,” so the meanings could be harder for some non-bilingual visitors to “get.” Was there a clear path to meaning from one gallery to the next?

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Moving from the preparation of cochineal to indigo, we see the concrete vats replicated to show us how the color of the plant is extracted. There is an excellent video created by Eric Chavez Santiago, education director at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca about the process of preparing indigo. It would have been a great educational video to include in this exhibition — better than the one selected to show.

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Ceramic artists from Santa Maria Atzompa created bellowing birds in the “yellow” room. Push and pull the bellows to hear how sound emanates and enters our bodies for interpretation. Aren’t we all cogs in the wheel?

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Meaning comes from many sources. The exhibition raises questions about how technology impacts and changes people, traditional life, practices and uses. How many are using the metate now to grind the cochineal and indigo, when most have gone over to coffee grinders for ease of labor.

Does this change the outcome of the fiber and color? What about the practice of hand-weaving itself? Will automated looms result in lower prices, yes, and the disappearance of a handmade process, perhaps? Will people only do this for a hobby and not for a business or way of life? What does it mean for the continuation of culture to experience this change? What about the raw materials: The hand-spun wool and natural dyes, what will become of them and the people who make them?

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I presume these are the questions that the artist is asking us to explore in this exhibition. As supporters, appreciators and consumers of art and artisanry, how do we each contribute to the continuation or demise of hand craft?

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The contemporary art museum is located on the Andador — Macedonio Alcala between Murguia and Morelos.

Festivals and Faces: Chiapas Photography Workshop