Oaxaca, a city with 3,000 visual artists!
This week felt better. I settled a nice routine of life & work and I managed to overcome some of the challenges of the first couple of weeks, especially work-related ones.
In this post, I want to talk about inspiration, and what it means to be inspired. On Saturday I met a very friendly gentleman who happened to work at a beautiful Art Gallery in the centre of Oaxaca. This Gallery is one of my favourites. This nice gentleman, who was an artist and worked at the Gallery, told me that they are 3,000 registered artists in this city! For a small city like Oaxaca, this is an insane number of artists! Now I understand why everywhere I look; I see artists working in their studios. And the reason should be... the inspiration everyone gets here!
Arte de Oaxaca Gallery, one gallery out of over 50 Art Galleries in the city!
There is something special in the air here that awakes the senses of creativity. This magic could be about the colours, the smells, the flavours, the people, the culture & history, the clothing, the markets… so many things. For every artist is something different but I am going to talk about what inspires me.
I have been always drawn to people. It is in my nature to talk and engage with others. I have a strong sense of empathy for people and their feelings. When I first came to Oaxaca, the local women were the ones who caught my attention first. The way they looked, dressed and lived were very captivating to me. I felt an urge to paint them. After coming to this city for a few times, I can still say that they are the source of my inspiration.
A woman dressed with a typical huipil (dress) from Huatla (a region in Oaxaca).
Three young girls all dressed in their typical dresses.
A woman selling her vegetables at the Tlacolula market, the biggest market in South America.
One of the first paintigs I created after my first trip to Oaxaca.
The second thing that captures my heart and inspires me to create are the local Folk Art, such as the embroidery, ceramics, alebrijes (wooden carved animals) and textiles. The art is so lovely, colourful and lively. It takes my imagination to fun places! It helps me connect with my inner child and brings happiness and playfulness to my work.
Ceramic dolls by Josefina Aguilar.
Alebrijes (wooden carved animals).
Musician bunnies made in red clay.
Mary is sewing some stiches in a new painting inspired by all the colours and patterns I see everywhere.
Artists in Oaxaca create artwork using plenty of different techniques. The most famous technique is implementing the use of “arenas or tierras”- sand or soil to your work. It gives the work a very rustic and authentic look. I was lucky to meet a local artist who offered to share his knowledge with me and was willing to introduce me to all the "Oaxaquenan techniques". Every Saturday morning we meet to learn about these materials and I especially enjoy the one using bee wax. This technique is called "encaustic". The melted wax allows you the creation of amazing effects, carving lines and patterns in your waxed surface. I am having so much fun exploring this new method and I can’t wait to start implementing it into my work!
These are samples of some exercises we are doing using bee wax.
I have always looked for visual stimulation as a way of inspiration for my own visual images, but as I write this post, I have come to realized that inspiration comes when your whole system of senses is awakened. This place definitely awakes not only my sense of vision but also my sense of taste, smell and sound, lots of sounds! A culinary destination that offers exotic flavours, the smell of the flowers and the many different sounds that occur during the day (and night) are all supporting the ambiance I need to create. Maybe this conclusion takes me back to the beginning of this post where I mentioned that they are over 3,000 working artists in Oaxaca! I hope you got a "little" glimpse of why this magic happens here! "The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become" with love, Jazmin