Tag Archives: retreat

Oaxaca Portraits: Photography by Norma Hawthorne Shafer

For our culminating photography fiesta, we each chose the best twenty photographs from the entire week of hundreds of pictures we took during the Oaxaca People Portrait Photography Workshop.  What made it easier was that each day we selected our best ten photos, projected them for everyone in the workshop to see and talked about what worked and didn’t work. At each session we received valuable feedback from our knowledgeable, patient instructor, photojournalist Matt Nager, who also gave a Lightroom photo editing tutorial for those who wanted it.

In the eye of the beholder: each of us sees our world through a different lens. Though we photographed many of the same people this week, each of our photos offers an alternative image. That is what makes photography so interesting.

Norma Hawthorne Shafer, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico and Graham, North Carolina, USA

d_Jose Buenaventura, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographs b_At Tierra Antigua n_Hugo_Cristobal_Danny  i_In the campo, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographsk_Candelaria with Luvia, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographsh_Waiting for Collectivo, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographs g_Francisco y Angela, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographs e_Luvia, Norma Hawthorne Shafer PhotographsMy own photography has improved over the years. This year I sold three photographs and invested in a 50mm prime lens that I tried once and put away. I forced myself to switch to it for most of this workshop week and was happy I did. I got used to moving my feet instead of a zoom lens, followed the natural light and shadows, asked people gently to turn their heads or bodies, place a hand, step up or step back.c_Ernestina, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographsr_Lorenzo y Alonzo, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographs  a2_Hanging Out, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographsj_Norma Gutierrez, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographsm_Lupita, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographs f_In the hammock, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographsl_Artist Studio, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographsq_Fernando Sandoval, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographs h_Coca Cola Man, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographsp_Antonio Camuña by Norma Hawthorne Shafero_Hugo, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographs a_TukTukDriver, Norma Hawthorne Shafer Photographs

Are you interested in coming to Oaxaca for a Day of the Dead photography workshop in October 2015? Send me an email and let me know.

Oaxaca Portraits: Photography by Luvia Lazo Gutierrez

This Oaxaca Faces Portrait Photography Workshop with Matt Nager was much more than taking candid photos of people we might see on the street. We depended on Teotiteca Luvia Lazo Gutierrez, who assisted me at the last photo workshop, to help connect us with local families. She speaks Spanish, Zapotec and English, so Luvia could talk to elders in their native language, since so many only know a smattering of Español. An English teacher, Luvia hopes to go to graduate school in photography — maybe in the USA.

A talented photographer in her own right, Luvia’s portrait of her grandmother Candelaria is part of a Oaxaca exhibition at 411 Espacio Fotographia that opened on Saturday night. The show will be up for a month. The gallery is at Eduardo Vasconcelos #411, close to the baseball stadium.

Luvia Lazo Gutierrez, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca 

 Luvia Lazo Gutierrez Portraits_DSC1195 Luvia Lazo Gutierrez Portraits Luvia Lazo Gutierrez PortraitsLuvia Lazo Gutierrez Portraits Luvia Lazo Gutierrez Portraits Luvia Lazo Gutierrez PortraitsLuvia Lazo Gutierrez Portraits _DSC1292 _DSC1080 _DSC1131 Luvia Lazo Gutierrez Portraits  Luvia Lazo Gutierrez Portraits _DSC0932 Luvia Lazo Gutierrez Portraits _DSC1223 _DSC1246 _DSC1131  Luvia Lazo Gutierrez Portraits

The portrait photography workshop gave us an intimate experience with local people who were so generous with their time. This cultural immersion offered an unparalleled, in-depth approach to photography. You can see the results for yourself! Thank you, Luvia!

If you want to join our next Day of the Dead photography workshop, let us know — send an email to Norma Hawthorne Shafer.

Telling Stories: Art Huipil Mixed Media Workshop

The Art Huipil Workshop in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico just ended. Our instructor Lena Bartula says, Textile is text, which is why she incorporates stories, messages, poems and other writing into the mixed media art workshop she teaches.  Textile is also cultural subtext, telling personal stories of the makers through pattern and design.

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Exquisite Corpse Huipil — Group Collaboration

The huipil is the oldest Mesoamerican clothing form worn by women. Each woman who weaves a piece of cloth on a back-strap loom has to tell that is incorporated into the cloth.  No two garments are alike.  They may incorporate similar materials and patterns, but they are arranged differently, reflecting our distinctiveness.

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Each woman uses symbols that reflect her personal and village history, and place in the world.  Each chooses yarn and thread colors important to her, mother, grandmother and village tradition. The way the symbols flow through the garment is a message about life. Our instructor La Huipilista Lena Bartula, guides along the creative pathway.

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Arrepentimientos by Vicki Solot

We take this Mexican tradition and use the huipil concept to create our own stories. We bring cloth, scissors, thread, canvas, handmade paper, ribbons, photographs, paints, drawing pens, glue, memorabilia and our imaginations.

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We take field trips to local markets to collect paraphernalia.  We look down on street pavement and in gardens to incorporate found objects. We determine what to edit, what is more or less, what is meaningful. We make art.

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We laugh. Dance. Eat. Sing. Rest and renew. We make an altar to bless each other and our work.  We celebrate the creativity and spirit within.

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We celebrate the completion of our work and time together with a spirited exhibition of our work, followed by a fiesta dinner complete with handmade chilis rellenos, roast chicken, tortillas, salsa verde, potato empañadas and a divine dessert called Pastel Imposible — chocolate cake topped with flan.

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As we say goodbye, we lay out our huipils. The sun is shining. The air is clear and warm. The days have sped by quickly and each participant takes away an art piece to display, a memory of an unparalleled experience in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Here is our work:

Workshop participants and their art.

Workshop participants and our collage of huipils.

I Love Mexico by Carol Egan

I Love Mexico by Carol Egan

Quierdos -- Dear Ones, by Ellen Benson

Quierdos — Dear Ones, by Ellen Benson

XXX by Sherry Bone Peel

Finding Teotitlan by Sherry Bone Peel

Bad Girl by Ellen Benson

Bad Girl by Ellen Benson

XXXX, by Vicki Solot

Natural Grace by Vicki Solot

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Gracias a la Vida/Yin by Ruth Greenberger

XXXX by Sherry Bone Peel

Let It Be by Sherry Bone Peel

XXX by Ruth Greenberger

Gracias a la Vida/Yang by Ruth Greenberger

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More or Less by Norma Hawthorne

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Let me know by email if you are interested in participating next year. I am starting an early notification list.

 

News: Two Spaces Open for Women’s March Writing Retreat

We have been SOLD OUT for months, but today I received two cancellations for the 2015 Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat that starts March 6, 2015.  That means we have TWO SPACES OPEN now. If you have been thinking about expressing your creative self and escaping winter, this could be the workshop you are looking for.  Let me know if you are interested in registering!  We would love to have you with 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.

garment worker huipil copy

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.

Pathmaker on blk

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.

silencio huipil copy

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