Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mexican Field Notes for Nature Gathered

I'm getting caught up with my Nature Gathered posts. While in Mexico, the process of using natural materials for dyes really interested me. Both the weavers and the candle makers used
the same plant-based dyes for blue, green, yellow, brown or tan and cochineal for red. The colors are wonderful, rich and very earthy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Más de México

Mexico holds many contrasts. This "dualidad" or duality makes the culture so rich. The country celebrates family yet has a high incidence of domestic violence. In Oaxaca, forty women die each month. Light and dark coexist. In the Panteon General or main cemetery in the city or Oaxaca, organizations that help women made altars and offerings to those who have died, to recognize their lives and to honor them.
In Xoxocatlán, we spent a quiet afternoon sketching in the cemetery. Families show their respect to their family members who have died. The offerings for Día de Muertos celebrate
life and welcome the loved ones' spirits to be remembered. It's a special tradition to stay connected to family through many generations.

We observed the faithful in the many of the churches and cathedrals that we visited. Hardship often makes one appreciate the little things in life we take so much for granted. ¡Gracias por la vida! Milagros- Mexicans believe in miracles.
Even in our hotel room, the sacred is remembered.
Las Flores- the flowers and gardens speak to the soul with tropical plants, peaceful inner courtyards.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hola- Back from a wonderful trip to Mexico

Our trip to Oaxaca and Mexico City filled each day with many adventures and sites for all senses.
The first day, we explored the city, visited Casa de La Cultura Oaxaqueña for a Día de Muertos
presentation, checked out a couple of artisan markets and walked everywhere. It's been
eight years since I visited Oaxaca and I saw many outward changes- lots of cars & traffic, abandoned buildings, more graffiti, empty restaurants and fewer tourists. It's taken a
long time for the area to come back from the government and teacher wars of 2005-2006.
The people welcomed us everywhere we went and appreciated our interest in their work
and culture.
Businesses, restaurants, hotels and homes set-up altars or ofrendas to honor their loved ones
who have died.
Pablo took us on an artisan tour of the Central Valley. We visited the home and studio of painter
Román Andrade Llaguno and his wife, Marta. He paints with gouache on Mexican amate paper
made of tree bark. His whimsical paintings contain the colors and symbols of Oaxaca with a
strong emphasis on family life. At the home of Zapotec weavers in Teotitlán de Valle, the use
of natural dyes interested us: cochineal- for red the color of life, indigo for blue; marigolds or
cempazuchiles for yellow; moss for green and nuts for shades of brown.
Often around a corner, we heard a band and then saw a calendra or parade from a local church, women dressed in their traditional clothes, throwing out candy to everyone on the street and celebrating Día de Muertos.
Thanks to Leigh, we enjoyed filling in our inchies with sketches or other ephemera. I will post more photos and sketches. This trip reinforced my love of Mexico- the people, culture and traditions.