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Norma writes for Selvedge Magazine Issue #109 -- Rise Up, November 2022
Norma Writes for Selvedge Latin Issue #89
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with weavers 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. Our interest is in creating connection and artisan economic development.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Toursd are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop weaving relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *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
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email email@example.com
- WEAVE Podcast: Oaxaca Coast Textiles & Tour
- NY Times, Weavers Embrace Natural Dye Alternatives
- NY Times, Open Thread–Style News
- NY Times, 36-Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico
- Cooking Classes–El Sabor Zapoteco
- Currency Converter
- Fe y Lola Rugs by Chavez Santiago Family
- Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art
- Hoofing It In Oaxaca Hikes
- Living Textiles of Mexico
- Mexican Indigenous Textiles Project
- Museo Textil de Oaxaca
- Oaxaca Lending Library
- Oaxaca Weather
- Taller Teñido a Mano Natural Dyes
Book Review: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Cover of The Lacuna: A Novel
If you want to understand Mexico and the U.S. more fully, read this book.
Subtle themes of identity, conflicts between people and countries, emptiness, loneliness and belonging punctuate Barbara Kingsolver’s most recent novel, The Lacuna. Lacuna is a complex word and Kingsolver uses it with agility and depth. It means a gap, a hole, a missing piece, an extended silence, the lack of law or legal source. In the novel it is a cenote, a hole in the earth and place to disappear or be swallowed up, to die and become reinvented. The image that comes to my mind when I think about this concept is Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream” – a silent, gaping mouth that expresses all the pain in the world without emitting a single sound.
The Aztecs and Mayans used human sacrifice to appease deities by sending maidens, political opponents, and captured innocents to their deaths, pushing them into deep limestone, water-filled cenotes. In the lacunae of modernity our political and social systems, and laws that codify authority sacrifice innocents as well as vocal opponents to the God of power, control, conformity, and profit.
The novel begins and ends in Mexico. Mexico is at its heart. Mexico is the thread that binds this story. Kingsolver’s protagonist is Harrison William Shepherd, brought into the world as a result of a precarious union between an American man and Mexican woman. They represent the conflicting gaps between two nations bound together by virtue of sharing the same continent, border, and struggle for nationhood that took different directions.
Shepherd, is a mestizo, though not by traditional definition. The Mexican mestizo is considered by political and social commentators to be the embodiment of conflicted identity that emerged from the comingling of the conquering Spanish and indigenous Mesoamerican. La Malinche, Cortes’ indigenous consort, is the symbol of the ultimate betrayal.
Kingsolver creates a mestizo who also does not belong fully to either parentage. His American father is a Washington, DC bureaucrat, rule-bound, conservative, and emotionally unavailable. His Mexican mother is bold, fiery, impetuous, and rebellious. They see in the other what they want to become and are incapable of making the relationship work. The mother flees the marriage, taking her young son to Mexico and the magnificent story unfolds. It is filled with mystery and sublime description as Shepherd explores his own identity, where he belongs, his own voice as a writer of fiction, and role as an active or passive player in life.
The Lacuna takes us through a thirty-year span of political and social upheaval from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. Through the eyes of fictional Shepherd and his personal secretary Violet Brown, along with Kingsolver’s humanizing portrayals of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, we understand the impact of the Russian Revolution, Stalinism, the Great Depression, World War II, the atom bomb, The Cold War, McCarthyism, sexual identity and the lacuna that fear creates in the hearts and minds of would-be decent human beings.
Washington Post Review by Ron Charles:
Posted in Books & Resources, Cultural Commentary
Tagged Barbara Kingsolver, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Mexico, The Lacuna: A Novel