Tag Archives: Eric Chavez Santiago

Eric Chavez Santiago to Speak About Textiles on WARP Chat

Meet a Member Fireside Chat: with Eric Chávez Santiago
Tuesday, April 9th at 3 pm Eastern(Spanish)
Wednesday, April 10th at 3 pm Eastern(English)

Will you be attending?
EVENT DETAILS: NOTA: puede ver la historia en español abajo del inglés.

This program is a series of monthly Fireside Chats on Zoom with a different WARP member each month. (This month with two sessions to choose from, one in English and one in Spanish.)

Eric Chávez Santiago was born in Teotitlan del Valle, he is part of the fourth generation of weavers in his family and has been involved in the textile world since 2002. He has a degree in business from Universidad Anahuac Oaxaca. His professional work experience is in the fields of natural dyes, education programs for artisans and coordination of exhibitions in museums and galleries. Eric was the founding director of education department at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca from 2008 to 2016, serving as a liaison between the museum and textile artists from Mexico and other countries. In 2016 he became director of the Folk Art Department for the Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation. In addition, from 2017 to 2021, he directed the Andares del Arte Popular project, where he managed a private fund to promote the work of artisans reaching 16 states in Mexico and over 40,000 handcrafts in purchases. Eric is currently in charge of the production of his textiles at Taller Teñido a Mano studio. He is also travel leader and partner at Oaxaca Cultural Navigator with Norma Schafer.

Conozca un Miembro: Una Seria de Conversaciones en frente de la Chimenea con miembros de WARP Este programa será conversaciones casuales, Fireside Chats, por Zoom, con miembros diferentes cada mes. Nota: las sesiones van estar grabadas y compartidas en la página de nuestra website para Solamente Miembros (Members Only) entonces miembros interesados pueden verlas más tarde.Eric Chávez Santiago nació en Teotitlán del Valle, es parte de la cuarta generación de tejedores de su familia y se dedica al mundo textil desde el 2002. Es licenciado en negocios egresado de la Universidad Anáhuac Oaxaca. Su experiencia laboral profesional se encuentra en el campo de tintes naturales, programas de educación para artesanos y coordinación de exposiciones en museos y galerías. Eric fue el director fundador del departamento de educación del Museo Textil de Oaxaca de 2008 a 2016, sirviendo como enlace entre el museo y los artistas textiles de México y otros países. En 2016 asumió como director del departamento de Arte Popular de la Fundación Alfredo Harp Helu, adicionalmente de 2017 a 2021 dirigió el proyecto Andares del Arte Popular, donde administró un fondo privado para promover el trabajo de artesanos que llegó a 16 estados de México y más de 40.000 artesanías compradas. Eric actualmente está a cargo de la producción de textiles en su estudio “Teñido a Mano”, también es líder de viajes y socio de Oaxaca Cultural Navigator junto con Norma Schafer.

Sesiones de Fireside Chats con Miembro de Eric Chávez Santiago:Martes, 9 de abril a las 3 pm hora del este (español)Miércoles 10 de abril a las 3 p.m. hora del Este (inglés)

Gratitude and Introducing Eric Chavez Santiago

Every day that I wake up here on the mesa overlooking the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos, New Mexico, I give thanks. It’s that time of year for giving thanks, for renewal of spirit and reaffirmation of life, for expressing gratitude to family and friends for all they have contributed to my well-being and for helping me get to this place I now call home. In traditional cultures, this is the harvest season and we give thanks for the abundance, a perfect closure to the annual growing cycle. It is also a time to start anew, take stock, make amends, assess our way of being. My thanks giving includes you. So many of you have read this blog since I started writing it in 2007, have taken tours and workshops with Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC, and have purchased many beautiful textiles. You have my thanks and sincerest gratitude. You have helped so many artisans improve their lives and livelihood. My gratitude is on their behalf, too.

Sunset, my backyard on the Rio Grande Gorge

It takes a combination of fear and courage to make change. I have a sticker on my sewing box that says, Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone, and I believe that. It’s a testimony to all of us who have recognized what we are afraid of, what it takes to overcome it and how to push through to get to a place of tranquility and well-being. Sometimes, change is stressful and doesn’t offer the kind of outcome we had hoped for. Change is learning. Without change, we are frozen. For me, this move has been a miracle. Covid brought me to New Mexico from North Carolina, to the infinite and amazing skies filled with light and the blaze of red, yellow and purple, to the high plateau of the southern Rockies, where the Spanish conquerors named these mountains the Sangre de Cristo (blood of Christ) because of the blood red reflection of sunset on the escarpment. My son and daughter-in-law moved to Albuquerque last year, too. It all fell into place. It snowed up there yesterday and it’s getting chilly here now. The seasons are changing.

Wildflowers and latilla fence, up the road in Taos, NM

Why am I here? As I age, I realize that being in the embrace of the miracle of nature is even more important to me than ever before. I needed the expansiveness of an infinite vista of mountains and plains with little to interrupt the eye. I came here at age 75 and built a house. Not something many 75-year-olds do. Now, I am close to turning age 77. In the past two years, I have thought about life, its terminus, health, changes in energy level, and how I want to be living in the next ten years. I am healthy, and yet, aging has a huge impact on how vitality plays out. I realize that my pace is slower and at some point (who knows when), it will be more difficult for me to get to Oaxaca regularly. Recently, I realized I needed a Oaxaca Cultural Navigator partner, someone who knows me, who I trust, who knows the culture.

Eric and Norma, Dia de los Muertos 2021

I have been living with the Chavez Santiago family in Teotitlan del Valle since 2005. It has been one of those life-changing experiences to live with a Zapotec family in their village, on their land, and to be part of and participate in life-cycle events. It was back then that I met the 20-year old Eric Chavez Santiago in the village rug market. He was a weaver, natural dyer, and university student unsure of who or what he would become. I helped get him his first 10-year visa to the USA, and sponsored Eric and his dad Federico to come to Chapel Hill to teach and mount an expoventa in 2006. They invited me to build a house and live with them. Our relationship is based on trust and there is no contract. Then, I coached Eric to apply to the not yet opened Museo Textil de Oaxaca, where he became the founding director of education and made his mark establishing programs to recognize the talents of indigenous Oaxaca artisans. After eight years there, he was invited to open the folk art gallery Andares del Arte Popular, owned by Alfred Harp Helu whose foundation has added much to the cultural excitement of Oaxaca.

My host family, Dolores Santiago Arrellanas and Federico Chavez Sosa, Eric’s mom and dad

As I contemplated my own next steps, it was a natural evolution to invite Eric to become a partner in Oaxaca Cultural Navigator. It is my honor to gift him this opportunity in gratitude and thanks for all that he and his family has given me. Now, we are in a transition period and I am involved as Eric and his wife Elsa participate more and more in leading our groups, organizing the infrastructure, handling the administration, and assuming more of an ownership role. This makes the best sense to me to keep Oaxaca Cultural Navigator alive and well far into the future. For the foreseeable future, I will continue to participate in our tours as founder.

Eric’s wife Elsa, son Santiago, and sister Janet at Jacob and Shelley’s wedding, San Clemente, March 2022

Many of you who know Eric, know how capable and engaging he is. He is a fluent English speaker, in addition to communicating in his native Zapotec and Spanish languages. All the artisans he has worked with over the years admire and respect him, and know that he has their best interests at hand. For those of you who have traveled with us recently, where Eric has been the leader, have seen what an extraordinarily knowledgeable and gracious human being he is. I couldn’t be happier to introduce you to him.

If you want to comment about this, please send me an email.

What travelers say about Eric:

I am so very grateful to have had Eric as our leader on the Oaxaca Mountain Textile Tour. Promoting and sustaining artisans is clearly his life work and passion. Eric’s professional and personal experience has given him a seemingly inexhaustible appreciation and knowledge of indigenous cultures, textile origins, weaving methods, motifs and dyeing processes which he shared so eloquently. The artisans we visited, often in quite remote villages, opened their homes, studios and hearts to us due to the mutual respect and friendship Eric has with each of them. Thank you, Eric, for guiding us to expertly and helping us discover the heart and soul behind all the beauty we were lucky to behold. Being with you was such a rich experience! -Connie Michal, Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

I thought Eric did great! His knowledge of the ara and artisans is outstanding, he provided an excellent educational experience with professional translation. He also made sure everyone was well-cared for, offering assistance to any of us who needed help getting up the hillside. He knowledge and professionalism is so appreciated. -Marsha Betancourt, Brownsville, TX

The Oaxaca textile trip was wonderful in every way. I am grateful that our home base was in Teotitlan del Valle, as it was restful and calm. I also appreciated the way the trip progressed beginning with Eric, his studio and his family. Both you and Eric are so knowledgeable about everything but with a great Socratic approach to learning — giving us enough information and letting our curiosity lead the way to deeper knowledge and understanding. I particularly enjoyed the philosophical conversations about indigenous people and culture, and how we impact that. I also felt a sense of safety and calmness, and acceptance for everyone in the group. Eric is a wonderfully patient, caring, and insightful man. His ability to connect and communicate with trip members was equal to his obvious connection and camaraderie with the indigenous artists and craftspeople we met! I would not hesitate to book a trip with Eric as a solo leader. Thanks for everything! -Pam Cleland-Broyles, San Diego, California

I am excited to be able to express an appreciation of Eric’s skills as a true leader; his communication style is very engaging, open, and soft-spoken. He is bilingual to the strongest expertise or extent. His history of the local culture, social life and craft evolution is encyclopedic. He was very comfortable letting me be as independent as I needed based on my physical strengths and limitations. I would highly recommend him as a tour guide. -Barbara Cabral, San Francisco

Eric is a world-class gentleman. A Mexican weaving and textile expert extraordinaire. Kind, considerate, respectful and patient. He speaks fluent English and can thoroughly explain his expertise and techniques to those of us with no knowledge of the field! -Charlie Dell, Phoenix, AZ

Parade of the Canastas, Teotitlan del Valle

Stories in Cloth: Presentation at the OLL

You are invited! Eric Chavez Santiago and I are making a presentation at the Oaxaca Lending Library (OLL) on January 11, 2022 at 5 p.m. Please come if you are in Oaxaca. The library is next to the Hotel Mariposa o. Pino Suárez near Parque Llano


Here is the program:

Stories in Cloth: Deciphering and Collecting Oaxaca Textiles

Tuesday, January 11, 5:00 p.m. — 100 MXN pesos for members. 130 MXN pesos for non-members.

Using examples from their personal collection and through photographs, Norma and Eric will discuss the rich textile history of Oaxaca to help participants better understand our state’s rich weaving traditions. From the Oaxaca coast to the Mixe to the Papoalapan region, the diversity of woven cloth — wool and cotton — tells a story of people, beliefs and traditions. Each village has both similar and different stories to tell through the cloth they weave.

Eric and Norma will select villages from various regions to explore designs and materials and techniques. They will talk about how to assess quality, how to differentiate between cloth woven on the backstop loom, pedal loom or on a machine. They will discuss “fair trade,” pricing and value, authentic from copycat, and cultural appropriation.

Furthermore, they will recommend villages and makers near Oaxaca City where excellent quality can be found at fair prices.

Like Antiques Roadshow, Norma and Eric invite audience members to bring one piece from their own collection to show. Presenters will attempt to identify where it was made, how it was made, and the story in the cloth.

Eric Chavez Santiago and Norma Schafer, Teotitlan del Valle cemetery, Day of the Dead 2021

Bio Briefs

Norma Schafer is a retired university administrator and director of Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. She has lived in with the Chavez Santiago family in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, since 2005. In 2006, Norma started organizing tapestry weaving and natural dye workshops, cultural and textile tours, concentrating on Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Eric Chavez Santiago was the founding director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca from 2008 to 2016. In 2017, the Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation tapped him to open, manage and promote indigenous artisan craft through their new folk art gallery, Andares del Arte Popular. Eric resigned from the foundation at the end of 2021 to grow the family enterprise, Taller Teñido a Mano, which provides naturally dyed cotton yard and woven goods to a worldwide market. Eric is a native of Teotitlan del Valle and speaks three languages: Zapotec, Spanish and English.

We are pleased to present this educational program in collaboration with the OLL.

Color Intensity of Natural Dyes from Oaxaca Sources

Today I changed the banner of the blog to give you a picture of the range of intense colors we got from the natural dye workshop we just completed with Eric Chavez Santiago.  Eric is one of Mexico’s most knowledgeable dye masters and his techniques include how to extract the color without wasting it.


We started with three colors only — cochineal, indigo and fustic — red, blue and yellow.  By over-dyeing and using various shades of natural wool, plus the chemistry of using an acid or a base with the color, we were able to get the amazing, rich colors that you see in the banner photo. They are all colorfast.

DyeWorkshopJan_Group-24 DyeWorkshopJan_Group-61

I will be writing more about this in the next few days and publishing more photos.  But in the meantime, I wanted you to see what our group accomplished during this three-day workshop.


The next natural dye workshop is in March 2014. Let me know if you want to participate.



Oaxaca Rug Exhibition + Sale @ Dos Perros, Durham, NC, October 5, 5:30-8:30 PM

All Friends of Oaxaca Are Invited!