Artes de Mexico: Textiles Mazahua Issue – (behind the scenes)

The latest issue of Artes de Mexico – Textiles Mazahua issue was published in May 2011 and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was on my way back to the states, driving from Oaxaca to Santa Fe, NM and wanted to pass through the State of Mexico and visit my friends the Flores Silvestres Rescate Project. These gracious women had allowed me into their lives to document the processes in fabricating their elaborate costume. If you read back by to my first WordPress posts you’ll learn of my involvement with the Mazahua ladies of Santa Rosa de Lima, Estado de Mexico, how I wandered into their pueblo and ended up photographing and learning the many pasos (steps ) that go into the 8 lb skirt and the brilliant natural dyed quechquemitl (cape).

Now almost two years later my article : “Un traje en peligro de extincion” (a costume on the edge of extinction) has appeared in this beautiful journal covering not only textiles but other little known cultural aspects of the indigenous Mazahua. My excitement stemmed from being able to bring this issue to the home of the project coordinator, Regina Torres. She, in turn, invited many of the Flores members to have a look. We joked around about how famous their village would now be. The Artes de Mexico photographer Pablo Aguinaco had beautifully captured pictures of their Fiesta Patronal in August 2009. Regina had a full page picture in Gabriel Olmos’ article “Flores en el Asfalto – Fiestas mazahuas” (Asphalt Flowers – Mazahua Fiestas) and she was pleased. The women were pleased and I was pleased and we all had several big meals to celebrate. Lovingly, I was gifted with a beautiful cochineal dyed quechquemitl made especially grande for the tall gringa with long arms. (see slide show)

Cultural recognition has come very slowly to most of the Mexico’s indigenous. To actually be featured in the most prestigious Mexican cultural/art journal Artes de Mexico seems like a big deal to me, a visitor from el norte. But perhaps it is just another day-in-life occurrence to the Mazahua ladies, like grinding the blue corn that has been drying in the corner of the living room – or shearing the sheep, but perhaps a bit stranger.

Well I’d like to think I kept my word – that the ‘story’ of the many pasos (steps) that go into the making of their traje will now be known to many people in Mexico and the world. That their hard work and artistry will be acknowledged and that they can now be confident that ‘we’ think they are intelligent and resourceful women. To me there was no question of that.

If you live in Mexico, Artes de Mexico is available at most museum book shops for about $15US.  In the U.S. you can try….. (working on finding a source – sorry!) Written in Spanish with English translations in the back (don’t worry). Known for its fabulous photograph, these journals of Mexican art and culture has been published since 1953 – (some are now out of print). Other Textiles issues include: Textiles de Oaxaca, and Textiles de Chiapas, and others textile related – China Poblana and La Tehuana (women of the Istmo).

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9 thoughts on “Artes de Mexico: Textiles Mazahua Issue – (behind the scenes)

  1. Sheri
    Felicidades!! The Artes de Mexico issue on the Mazahua looks great. I’ll be picking up a few copies when I’m down there next month, we’ll have a few for sale in the gallery if anyone is interested. The Mazahua are an incredible group of people, their work in textiles and silver, among other mediums, is amazing. Hope al is well with you, sorry we never got together while you were in Atlacomulco. Great blog also.

    • I think the Folk Art Museum bookstore is going to carry Arte de Mexico. Hope they do. I’d like to have some way to get copies to my friends etc.

  2. Hi Sherry,
    Congratulations! Arte de Mexico transcends being just a magazine. I’ve never never thrown an issue away. (In fact I look, in Mexico City, for the very early issues. They can be found in some of the better secondhand bookshops) I look forward to this current issue and your article.
    I’m sorry that we did not have a chance to talk in Santa Fe. Let’s not give up. When will you be coming to visit the Bay Area again?

    Kind regards,
    Alice Erb

    • Thanks Alice – Yes, the opportunity to write this article sort of landed in my lap one day – it’s a great story actually. But I was living near Santa Rosa de Lima for over a year – in Atlacomulco. Finally my curiosity got the best of me and I went out there. Luckily these ladies were initiating their own ‘rescate’ project and invited me to document it (or did I invite myself?) Anyway – hope you can get an issue of Arte de Mexico: Textiles Mazahua soon. AND YES, sorry we didn’t get to visit while you here in Santa Fe. I’ll be here now for the coming 9 months and of course next summer and the Folk Art Market. Let’s connect!!!

  3. Sherita, what a wonderful story and accomplishment. You look beautiful and content in these photos. I know that one od your dreams is realized: to bring recognition to the talented women who create, work and are under- appreciated. We share common motivations, hermana. You are La Reina de Quechquemitl. Abrazos, Norma

    • Thanks Norma – Seeing this issue finally published was sort of like graduating!!!
      The Mazahua ladies loved it. I hope they are inspired to keep doing their work. They aren’t making things to sell yet – but I hope they do in the future. This quechquemitl is so beautiful and labor intensive. Now I have my own!
      Hope you are enjoying Oaxaca! ….and we meet next year.

    • Thanks for your comments – I always appreciate hearing from people. Yes, revisiting my Mazahua friends was a treat. They were so happy about the Arte de Mexico article. It’s about time they got some recognition for all the beauty they create.

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