Museo Textil de Oaxaca: July 2008

“From Mitla to Sumatra” is on exhibit at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca through early August. It is an extraordinary display of weaving from Oaxaca and her surrounding villages, plus similar designs that are prevalent in Indonesia, Africa, and China. Alejandro de Avila, the exhibition curator, has subtitled the grouping, “the art of the fret.” The fret, or greca, is a ubiquitous design that appears in textiles around the world — a wonderful commentary about our connection to each other as human beings. This exhibition features clothing and rugs that incorporate the design of the fret. The museum’s permanent collections include traje or clothing representing the the many indigenous people’s of Oaxaca, including woven and embroidered blouses, skirts, shawls, rugs, belts, and other articles of decoration and clothing. This is the only museum of its kind in Mexico, and if you are in Oaxaca — a locale noted for its incredible textiles — this is eye-candy you won’t want to miss. Since the museum does not yet have a complete website, I though it would be helpful to give you a taste of what is in store when you visit.

There is a great museum store on site that offers silk and wool handwoven scarves, two beautiful shawls woven by Roman Gutierrez, an array of precious, intricately woven huipils, and some wonderful books on weaving for sale. Francisco Toledo has donated his library of world textile publications, and the biblioteca at the museum is spacious and comfortable, open for public use.

I just love the design of the gas stove in the dye kitchen at the museum. The counter top is cement with an integrated color of warm yellow. The backsplash is broken tile shards from the pottery village of Atzompa.

The museum’s director, Ana Paula Fuentes Quintana, is a textile artist who studied in Barcelona where she earned a master’s degree. She encourages everyone who is interested to come and visit. The coordinator of education is my friend Eric Chavez Santiago, who organizes programs for students, teachers, and artists, is creating a display of natural dye materials, and is developing certification for weavers to authenticate their use of natural dyes.

Here is a photo (above) showing the restoration process of a very special huipil, in an area dedicated for the preservation of textiles.  The museum relies on volunteers for this work.  If you are interested in knowing more, please read The Unbroken Thread: Preserving the Textile Traditions of Oaxaca.

Museo Textil de Oaxaca is free and open to the public every day except Tuesday. Funded by the Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation, its mission is to preserve the textile traditions of Oaxaca, teach and educate about the weaving process, restore antique textiles, and showcase the textiles from Oaxaca and around the world. It is housed in the renovated 18th century Casa Antelo and a part of the ex-convent of San Pablo. The facilities are extraordinary: arched colonial doorways and windows, stone walls and floors, and original frescoes that have survived. The original owner of the Casa Antelo was a cochineal merchant, so the link from past to present is particularly cogent.

Coming Soon: Workshops for Children and Young People, ages 6-10 and 11-16, from July 14 to August 16. Contact the Museum for more information and to register: 501-1104 or 501-1617, extension 104.

New Exhibition Opening Friday, August 15: Woven and Crocheted Plant Fiber Handbags, opening reception that evening.

Address: Hidalgo 917, corner Fiallo, Centro de Oaxaca, two blocks from the Zocalo

[Note: For weaving workshops for artists, teachers, weavers, knitters, and anyone interested, please use the Search tool on this blog to see the blog post: Oaxaca Weaving Workshops: Dancing on the Loom. We teach all levels, from novice to experienced. We are not endorsed by or associated with Museo Textil de Oaxaca.]

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