It’s Good Friday and our fifth portrait photography workshop day. Between the “on the fly” street photography of village life and religious processions, we visited the home and studio workshop of master weaver Federico Chavez Sosa in Teotitlan del Valle.
If you have ever sat for a family portrait in a photographer’s studio, you know how complicated it can be when four or five or six people get together to have their picture taken. When one person smiles, another can frown or someone can invariably have their eyes closed. It’s the photographer’s greatest challenge, I discovered, to keep everyone smiling at the same time and looking straight into the camera’s lens. Pan Comida today — Piece of Cake!
Fortunately for us, Federico Chavez Sosa, his wife Dolores Santiago Arrellanas, and their children Eric Chavez Santiago, Janet Chavez Santiago, Omar Chavez Santiago, and Eric’s novia Elsa Sanchez Diaz were great subjects. There was a lot of laughter going on during and between the takes.
Everyone in this family is a weaver. In addition to master weaver Federico, Dolores is also adept at the two-pedal floor loom, and all the children know how to weave. Eric is the director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Janet is the educational docent at the new San Pablo Academic and Cultural Center in the historic center of Oaxaca, Omar is a student entering university this fall, and Elsa is the administrator of an art glass blowing studio in San Augustin Etla.
What distinguishes this family is not only their knowledge about weaving and Oaxaca textiles, but their use of one hundred percent natural dyes to prepare the wool they use to weave rugs (tapetes). They prepare their own dye materials, using environmentally sustainable plant materials such as pecan nuts, wild marigold, pomegranates, indigo and the famous bug on the cactus plant, the cochineal.
We got both formal and informal photos. And, at the end of our hour together, we toasted with a bit of mezcal. The family operates Galeria Fe y Lola in Oaxaca’s historic center one block from Santo Domingo Church in the courtyard at Av. 5 de Mayo #408. They are there almost every day except Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Check out our next photography workshop: Oaxaca Photography Expedition-Market Towns and Artisan Villages, set for summer 2012.
Commonwealth Club of California to Host Chavez Santiago Family Weavers on May 10
San Francisco and Bay Area textile and fiber artists, hand-weavers and spinners are invited to attend a presentation at the Commonwealth Club of California at 12:00 noon on May 10.
The Future of Tradition: Weavers of Oaxaca, Mexico Connect Their Future with Their Past.
Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca and Janet Chavez Santiago, education coordinator at the San Pablo Academic and Cultural Center of Oaxaca, will talk about their family’s weaving and textile traditions, indigenous life, and the professional goals they have set for themselves and their institutions. Jean Pierre Larochette, a Berkeley, Calif. weaver and leader of the American Tapestry Alliance, will introduce them.
Chavez Santiago Family Portrait by Richard Carter c.2012
Their father, Federico Chavez Sosa, is a master weaver whose work is recognized for blending traditional Zapotec design with innovative color combinations and pattern adaptations. Both Janet (top, second from left) and Eric (top right) are fourth generation tapestry weavers, along with their brother Omar (top left). Eric’s novia Elsa Sanchez Diaz is to Eric’s left.
The family is committed to using only 100% natural dyes in their work. They have been featured in the NY Times article 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico by travel writer Freda Moon.
Eric and Janet are in the Bay Area at the invitation of the American Tapestry Alliance.
This summer! Weaving and Natural Dye Workshop with Federico Chavez Sosa and the Chavez Santiago Family Weavers in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, produced by Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.
Chavez Family Weavers, a Portrait by Norma Hawthorne c.2012
In addition, Federico accepts commissions for custom work and when you are in Oaxaca, please visit them at Galeria Fe y Lola, Av. 5 de Mayo #408, Centro Historico.
Questions? Contact Norma Hawthorne, executive director, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.
Comments Off on Commonwealth Club of California to Host Chavez Santiago Family Weavers on May 10
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture, Textiles, Tapestries & Weaving, Workshops and Retreats
Tagged American Tapestry Alliance, blogsherpa, Chavez Santiago Family weavers, Commonwealth Club of California, dyeing, Federico Chavez Sosa, fiber art, Mexico, natural dyes, Oaxaca, San Francisco, spinning, textiles, weaving