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Norma Writes for Selvedge Magazine Issues #89 + #109
Creating Connection and Meaning between travelers and with indigenous artisans. Meet makers where they live and work. Join small groups of like-minded explorers. Go deep into remote villages. Gain insights. Support cultural heritage and sustainable traditions ie. hand weaving and natural dyeing. Create value and memories. Enjoy hands-on experiences. Make a difference.
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with makers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. We create connection and help artisans reach people who value them and their work.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
We Contribute Two Chapters!
Meet Makers. Make a DifferenceOaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university, textile and artisan development experience. See About Us.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your independent travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, curators, universities and others come to us to develop artisan relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *Abeja Boutique, Houston *Selvedge Magazine-London, UK *Esprit Travel and Tours *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University *MINNA-Goods *Smockingbird Kids *MINNA *University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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- Currency Converter
- Fe y Lola Rugs by Chavez Santiago Family
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- Living Textiles of Mexico
- Mexican Indigenous Textiles Project
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- Taller Teñido a Mano Natural Dyes
Jose Garcia Antonino, Oaxaca Folk Art Sculptor
For many years now, I have made it a practice to regularly visit the sculpture and pottery studio-workshop-home of Jose Garcia Antonio. We call him “Don Jose,” an honorific that testifies to his folk art talent working with clay. Last week, three of us hired a taxi for an all-day excursion into the Ocotlan valley. Roberta had commissioned a sculpture for her Teotitlan del Valle rooftop garden and we set out to retrieve it.
Don Jose is blind from cataracts, yet his hands feel the wet clay and create primitive works of beauty that are in museum and private collections. His wife Teresa Mendoza Sanchez is his muse and helpmate. It is her image that is reflected in his work. Almost all of his robust depictions of women have her features and signature beauty mark.
His work is recognized in the Grandes Maestros de Arte Popular de Oaxaca Art (Great Masters of Oaxaca Folk Art), a book produced by Banamex Foundation and supported by the Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation. (I was at the presentation but missed getting a book because I was too busy talking! Now, I can’t seem to find one anywhere.)
He proudly showed us his copy of the book signed by all the dignitaries who were there: Philanthropist Alfredo Harp Helu, Dra. Isabel Grañen Purrua, Governor Gabino Cue, and other notables. I saw him from a distance accept this treasure, an official recognition of his life’s work. His children have also been acknowledged for their creativity in Arden Rothstein’s book about the new generation of talent coming out of the villages.
Jose and Teresa’s home is tucked away beyond the church in San Antonino Castillo Velasco behind a tall gate. You would never know the treasure trove that awaits you by looking from the street.
To get there, you turn right on Castillo Velasco at the sign that directs you into the pueblo from the Ocotlan road. Then you go straight until you get to the street before the church and turn right. (If you go right up to the church, the only way you can go is left, so pay attention.) Turn left at the next street, Calle Libertad, and continue for a few blocks until you see the clay cow and pig on the roof. Tel. (951) 539-6473.
The next generation: Jose and Maria’s daughter is an excellent sculptor as well. And, a footnote: Because I’m now able to live here many more months out of the year, I went ahead and acquired the pretty clay woman with the braids and bowl on her head, hanging on to her skirts, above left. As with most primitive folk art, these pieces are delightful, whimsical, and reflective of the cultural art traditions. They are also very heavy. Shipping and crating would be a bloody fortune!
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture, Photography, Travel & Tourism
Tagged blogsherpa, clay, folk art, Jose Garcia Antonio, Mexico, Oaxaca, pottery, San Antonino Castillo, sculpture