Tag Archives: design

Mexican Impressions: Oaxaca Printmaking Workshop

Sunday to Friday, January 10-15, 2016, 6 workshop days. Starts Sunday morning and ends Friday evening with a gallery show and reception. Anyone with an interest, including beginners as well as emerging and established artists who want to build their portfolio and add a gallery show to their resume, is welcome. $995 per person.

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Oaxaca is a vibrant center for the arts with a rich tradition in the graphic arts. There are more than 20 active printmaking studios here and many more galleries where artists and their work are featured. We invite you to learn more about Oaxaca’s graphic arts scene and take part in an in-depth, hands-on workshop to apply the printmaking traditions of Oaxaca and Mexico. You will make your own carved relief prints using wood and multi-density fiber board (MDF), professional carving tools and a traditional press.

Who Should Attend: Anyone with an arts interest, emerging and established artists, and mixed media artists will want to incorporate this medium into their work.

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Your Workshop Leaders: THREE Amazing Professionals

Complete instructor bios are included below.

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Before we go to work in the studio on Monday, we take you on Sunday to museums, markets and Monte Alban archeological site to examine historical objects, fine art and popular crafts. Take a closer look at indigenous and vernacular design motifs, then use your sketchbook and/or camera to record your impressions and create a starting point from which to develop your relief print – an impression of Mexico.

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Our workshop is held at a fully equipped graphic arts studio located in the historic center of Oaxaca. During the course, you will make an artist’s proof and a small edition of six or more 18″x 24″ black and white prints. Then, you will carve an additional block to introduce color into the print. This is called a two-plate relief system.

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To ensure a quality hands-on experience, this workshop is limited to 10 participants.

During the week, you will receive group and individualized instruction, coaching, constructive feedback and review. Our final day will culminate in a gallery opening and reception with a group exhibition open to the public. You are welcome to invite guests.

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Before the workshop begins, we will send you suggested readings and materials to prepare you, including essays on the artwork of printmakers Jose Guadalupe Posada, the Taller Grafica Popular and artists currently working in Oaxaca. Our packet includes travel and packing tips, restaurants, shopping guide and more!

  • Sunday: Starts 10 a.m. with field trips to Monte Alban, markets and museums (shared taxis to/from Monte Alban)
  • Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Studio workshop time with lunch break) to develop designs, carve and print.
  • Friday Evening: Gala reception and Gallery Exhibition.

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About Kevin McCloskey

Kevin McCloskey, professor of Communication Design, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, has been visiting Oaxaca for over 30 years. In 2007, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to study the visual arts of Oaxaca. He has written extensively about Mexican political prints and has curated eight exhibitions of Mexican prints across the U.S, notably at the Fowler Museum, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). In 2012, he was invited to Princeton University to lecture on Mexican prints at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Studies.

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McCloskey holds an MFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts, New York. His humorous illustrations have appeared in magazines and newspapers, including the Village Voice, New York Times, New York Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer. His prints and illustrations have been exhibited widely and his has published numerous books.

Articles on the Oaxaca art scene by Kevin McCloskey:

About Miles DeCoster

While Miles DeCoster teaches interactive design in the Communications Design Department at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, he is also a painter, photographer, printmaker, book artist, web artist and designer. He received formal training at the Washington University School of Fine Arts in St. Louis (BFA 1972) and the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA 1979). His work is in numerous collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the California Museum of Photography, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Washington University Rare Books and Special Collections and private collections.

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DeCoster has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, Post-Newsweek Stations, Nexus Press and the Chicago Arts Council. His studio is at the GoggleWorks arts center in Reading, PA, one of the largest facilities of its kind in the USA. His work is included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Walker, and many regional exhibitions.

As a professional designer, DeCoster served as art director for In These Times, a national news magazine published in Chicago, from 1983 to 1993, and has designed many print projects and web sites for clients including the American Heart Association, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Freedman Gallery at Albright College, Harcros Pigments, Trattoria Mario in Florence, FESTA, First Books, Yellow Press and others.

About Alan Altamirano

Printmaker/artist Alan Altamirano is one of Oaxaca’s young, up-and-coming artists whose work is collected around the world. His professional nickname is MK Kabrito! You will have to ask him what that means.

Alan is the founder of Taller de Grafica La Chicharra in Oaxaca, Mexico. He attended the Escuela de Bellas Artes, Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca (UABJO) and graduated in 2010 in fine and visual arts.

10848710_10206212116119828_1018688424988371677_oAlan has studied with noted printmakers Shinzaburo Takeda, Suzanne Simpson, Tamana Araki, Per Anderson, Raul Herrera. He his work is recognized and exhibited in Mexico, Spain, Italy, The United States of America, Rumania, Brazil and Argentina.

His resume includes a long list of expositions and seasoned printmakers recognize Alan as an important contributor to the Oaxaca art scene. At the end of March 2015, Alan traveled to University of California at Davis where he had an exposition of his work and gave a week-long printmaking workshop. He was in California for three weeks to explore the printmaking and contemporary art scene in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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The workshop includes

  • all instruction, coaching and review sessions
  • personal attention from three practicing, exhibited artists who are also expert teachers,
  • all printmaking materials (except sketchbook, pencils)
  • dedicated use of a professional graphic arts studio
  • gallery exhibition of group work at the end of the week

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The workshop does not include airfare, lodging and meals, taxis and admission to museums and archeological sites, alcoholic beverages, tips, travel insurance, optional transportation and incidentals. When you register, we will send you a list of suggested hotels and B&Bs.

About Suggested Accommodations: We are based in Oaxaca city for this workshop. To keep this workshop affordable, we are not including lodging and meals. We will suggest a range of hotels and B&B’s where you may choose to stay, complete with contact information and estimated pricing. You can also check TripAdvisor and BookingDotCom or other online agencies for best prices. All reservations for lodging are to be made and paid for by you directly with the hotel. You are free to choose any accommodation you prefer, from luxury to basic hostel. We will send you a list of recommended hotels after you register and make your deposit.

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Reservations and Cancellations: A 50% deposit will reserve your space. The final payment for the balance due shall be made on or before November 1, 2015. We accept PayPal for payment only. We will send you an invoice for your deposit to reserve when you tell us by email that you are ready to register.

If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email. After November 1, 2015, no refunds are possible. However, we will make every effort to fill your reserved space or you may send a substitute. If you cancel before November 1, 2015, we will refund 50% of your deposit.

International Travel Insurance Required. We require that you take out trip cancellation, baggage loss and at least $50,000 of emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip. We will ask for documentation. We know unforeseen circumstances are possible.

To register, email us at oaxacaculture@me.com We accept payment with PayPal only. Thank you.

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Ready to register? Send us an email and we’ll send you an invoice to make your $550 deposit. This guarantees your space.

Textile Felt Fashion Designer Teaches Oaxaca Workshop

Maddalena Forcella is an Italian fashion designer who has lived in Mexico most of her adult life. She works in felt and creates beautiful, comfortable clothing that is Art-to-Wear. In the workshop we create the felted nuno cloth and then design garments using indigenous Mexican textile patterns including the quechequemitl, huipil, rebozo and blusa. You can adapt these to your own fit and style!  When? Felt Fashion Workshop, January in Oaxaca, where the sun still shines in winter.  See Maddalena’s work at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.

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Earrings, a Pendant, Dreams Realized: Sterling Silver Jewelry Workshop

Beryl Simon from Boston, Massachusetts, signed up with us to take a sterling silver jewelry making workshop before she visited Oaxaca.  She wrote:  I love working with silver! I have a passion for jewelry making and design, and would like to expand my skills. I also love the work created in this workshop that I see on-line.  I invited Beryl to write about her experience.

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My recent trip to Oaxaca with my husband was wonderful in every way, but the high point for me was a three-day lost wax sterling silver jewelry workshop with Brigitte Huet and Ivan Campant. My dream was to work hands-on and one-on-one with master craftsmen amidst the color and charm of this beautiful city. And I took away not only the memories and new skills, but also a rather-professional-looking sterling silver pendant and set of earrings that I will treasure forever.

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On Friday morning, Day One of the workshop, I started out by taxi from our city center B&B to their home studio in a nearby residential area.  In my enthusiasm, I arrived a bit early (sorry Brigitte!), but was welcomed with a cup of tea and an introduction to two aging, friendly and adorable dogs.  Then we got to work.

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Lost-wax carving is an ancient and venerable tradition. Brigitte and Ivan showed me techniques that combine both ancient and modern techniques.  It was fascinating. During the first day, I learned to carve a traditional design using simple tools.  I must confess that I have no talent for carving wax! But somehow, Brigitte, with her patience and clear instruction, helped make it work for me. The difficulty of the wax carving process and doing it well made me appreciate even more the talent required to craft one of Brigitte and Ivan’s gorgeous creations.

After a focused morning, we took a break for a delicious lunch, which we bought from a local street vendor.  Brigitte made a tasty agua fresca (fresh fruit and water) drink and the dogs entertained us with some very cute tricks. And then, back to work.

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Day Two, Saturday, was devoted to casting the silver using a hand-sling and a charcoal fire.  I also learned to use a more modern motorized centrifuge.  I doubt there are many places in the world where students can learn this traditional method. Slinging molten silver is exciting but rather scary, and I was glad that Ivan had me practice this skill using water, while he slung the real piece. It was magic plunging the mold into water and pulling out the completed silver “tree.”

When I saw the sterling pendant I created, I was amazed. (I should mention that the cost of the silver is part of the workshop fee, making this a remarkable value.)  Heating the mold for casting takes hours, and during the down time, Brigitte guided me through carving a second wax piece based on my own design. Someday, I hope to finish and cast this piece as well.

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I spent Day Three, Sunday, with master silversmith Ricardo. As a student silversmith, this was a particularly important time for me. Under Ricardo’s guidance I worked entirely hands-on, from melting and recycling silver into sheet and wire, through to a finished and professional-looking pair of traditional-style earrings. In the process I honed my existing skills and learned many new ones, raising my level from beginning silversmith to intermediate level. I doubt that I could have had one-on-one experience like this anywhere else in the world.

What I learned:

  • Melting and pouring silver into forms.
  • Pressing sheet and pulling wire.
  • Learning the correct way to use a saw. I no longer have fear of making complex forms.
  • Practicing techniques for piercing with drill and burr.
  • Creating texture with dapping and stamping.
  • Soldering.
  • Polishing, polishing, polishing.
  • Making simple granulation and filigree. Because I had some experience, Ricardo guided me through this process.

The result:   Beautiful earrings that I love, and skills that I can use forever. Thank you, Brigitte, Ivan and Ricardo, for this wonderful adventure!

Interested in taking this workshop? Email us!

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Felted Fabric Fashion Oaxaca Style

Making felt is one of the oldest forms of fabric known to humankind–a process more than 6,000 years old.   Felt happens when sheep wool is moistened, heated and agitated.  

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For our Felted Fashion Workshop with Jessica de Haas in Oaxaca this week, we used merino wool dyed with natural plant materials — pericone and indigo, and the cochineal insect.   At the end of the week, we had collectively created shawls, scarves, rebozos, wall hangings, pillow covers and enough ideas to feed our creative energy for some time to come. 

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We gathered in the pomegranate tree-shaded courtyard, first to see examples of great garments, including published examples of Jessica’s.  Then, we jumped into two days of preparing sample fabric swatches to experiment with the colors and materials we brought.  Jessica warned us: always make samples first to see how the fabric will look before you make a larger piece.

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On day three, we jumped into tuk-tuks to have lunch at Tierra Antigua Restaurant.  (Can you see five of us packed into that little electric go-cart?)

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Afterward, I commandeered a pick-up truck to take us up the hill to see examples of indigenous clothing made by Arte y Seda.  We were ready to delve into the process of making felted yardage that could become a garment.

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Here in Teotitlan del Valle, people weave with wool every day, but using roving (wool that is not spun) for making felt is not familiar.  Zapotec  women who came into our workspace during the week were fascinated with the process.  I am hoping to give a demonstration of the process to local women later this spring.

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Some who participated were accomplished artists, like Linda Jacque, who paints guitars for famous rock musicians.  Her colorful vision was immediately evident in the pieces she created.

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Most of us were novices or beginners to the felt making process, so the experience was both instructive and fun.

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Working with bubble wrap, soap, water, plastic baggies, and lots of elbow (and sometimes foot) grease, we rolled, pressed, and agitated the wool until it began to felt.  The fibers of the wool move together and interlock.  Our instructor, felt fashion designer Jessica  checked, demonstrated, and encouraged us every step of the way.

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By the end of each day we were ready for a TMM.  Some of us chose to keep going even after dark.

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The local color inspired us!  Oaxaca’s great food gave us sustenance. The camaraderie kept us motivated.  We learned from and supported each other.  It was a fantastic experience.

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We hope you will join us next time!

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Linking Oaxaca Past to Present Through Arts and Design

The New York Times featured Oaxaca as a living example of how to best marry past and present in its June 15, 2013 feature story,  The Past Has a Presence Here written by Edward Rothstein in The Critic’s Notebook in the Times Arts & Design section.  Says Rothstein, “In the museums and gardens of Oaxaca, Mexico, unlike those of the United States, the character of history is unvarnished.”

History converges in Oaxaca, Mexico because her indigenous people have survived for millenia despite conquest, wars, disease, poverty and malnutrition.  The archeological ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla are evidence through extraordinary physical remains of the building and destruction of great civilizations.  Descendants live in the valleys below with language, culture and art intact.  Her food — mole, squash, corn, beans, chiles — are also a living testimony to creativity and adaptation in a harsh land.

Rothstein uses a good part of his “column inches” to discuss the importance and impact of the Ethnobotanical Gardens designed and developed by Alejandro de Avila B.  It is a living centerpiece of Oaxaca’s cultural history — a compendium of native plants that people have and continue to depend on for fiber, natural color, shelter, and beauty.

Oaxaca is rich in tradition that has not died out and is only accessible through memory and museum exhibitions.

He goes on to say, “But how different all of this is from images of the indigenous past north of the border! There are few areas where evidence of ancient state-size power exists (mainly in the 2,000-year-old relics of societies that once thrived along the Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers). There are few places where cultural continuity is even remotely clear, and where ancient languages are still widely spoken. Even before colonization, cultures disappeared, leaving behind neither oral traditions nor written records. And forced migrations and centuries of warfare so disrupted native traditions that the past now seems little more than an identity-affirming fantasy.”

I think of the Taos pueblo, the Four Corners in Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, the dioramas and exhibitions in the Museum of the American Indian,  annual Indiana pow-wows of the Potawatomi to bring far-flung tribal members together, and the painful history of exile, annihilation and reservations.

What do you think of when you read Rothstein’s article?

And, yes, Oaxaca is safe.  I am on an airplane today to Mexico City, then Puebla.  I’ll pick back up on my posts in a few days.

Plus, thanks to friend Leslie Fiske Larson for bringing this NY Times article to my attention! Leslie spent several months volunteering at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca and knows a great pushcart fruit stand right around the corner!  Yummy papaya.