Challenging & Amazing

May 26, 2019

#iamready Week 4 #estoylista Semana 4

What a week! By Monday, I reached the point where I was missing my sons dearly and surprisingly, I was missing doing mom’s chores too! Who would have thought, right? Driving them to school cooking, homework…the usual, familiar, warm fuzzy feeling of family’s duties! I enjoyed the first weeks of freedom and the feeling of having the whole day to work on my art, but as time went by, I started to feel that something was missing. I have been very good at managing mom’s duties and my work. Over the years, I could easily switch from doing my work (while being interrupted a dozen times), to driving, cooking and other stuff around the house. I have developed a skill to complete work on very high pressure and limited time while managing a family of five. And, yet, here I am, in Oaxaca, having all the time in the world to create, and I found myself missing what I have been doing the past 21 years…mom’s chores! My husband has been great at doing them all at home, but I think he has also reached the point where he needs me around. Another event that triggered these feelings was a major health issue I had on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday…! Oh boy, I woke up on Sunday hearing nothing but an echo in my head. Both ears were plugged and I couldn’t even hear my voice. I panicked and cried thinking I was going deaf. I have been dealing with hearing problems for 16 years now. Every day for the past 16 years, I live, love and work with a constant “buzz’ sound in my ear called tinnitus. It is a common condition and it can be felt in many different levels. Mine was diagnosed “mild”. Not an easy nor comfortable feeling, but I got used to it. Last Sunday it felt different though. As the world of sound was running away from me, and all I could do was isolating myself and feeling miserable… A major challenge and I missed my dear ones so much! I had to deal with this condition by myself because going back home was not an option. Luckily, I found a very good ear specialist that saw me on Tuesday morning and after a check up, and a hearing test, the doctor put me on medication. I feel like myself again and thankful for this doctor that helped me get my hearing and life back!

 

This week, after me health issue, I had the chance to visit a few artisans’ workshops. The visits were enjoyable and “eye opening”. What I mean by eye opening is the way they live and work as communities! In Vancouver our lives are pretty much on our own. Many times I feel very isolated from the outside world, especially during the winter times. Here, these families of artisans share a common space for work (atelier-taller) and they build houses around the work space. As families grow, they add more homes. Children play around the atelier and babies are put on strollers to watch their parents as they work. One artisan told me: babies get used to stay seated in their strollers because their moms & dads are too busy working. I couldn’t help but thinking about my boys when they were babies and how demanding they were. I couldn’t get anything done! As children grow, parents teach their kids the craft and expect them to carry the family tradition. Many workshops evolve and get updated when the young generation takes over and some workshop remain the same. The ateliers are equipped with basic tools and the conditions of work are very hard (heat, straight sun, wind and rain, dust). But with all this, they create marvelous things!

 Familia Fabian, Alebrijes' workshop at Tilcajete, Oaxaca

 

I got to visit the atelier of Josefina Aguilar, a renown world clay figure artist, the Alebrije workshop of “Fabian Family” and Carlomagno, a “barro negro” (black clay) artisan.  Carlomagno, who has been recognized world wide and his sculptures were published on beautiful books, still works in a very modest, basic studio, while sitting on a short stool. Since I speak Spanish, I enjoy asking them questions and connecting with them. These artisans are very humble and hard workers. Carlomagno told me that all the artisans from his little village collect the black clay from the soil near by and after cleaning it and adding water, he and the other create amazing black sculptures.  While talking to all of them, I realized that they are blessed to be able to work and make a living from their craft. Thanks to many people around the world, who appreciate Folk art, these artists and their families are able to sustain themselves.

 With Gaby and David Vilchis, my creative & business partners.

 

One of the purposes of my trip, is to collaborate with other artisans in the region. I love and appreciate Folk art, and my vision is to create paintings that include different artistries in one piece. In order to do this, I try to connect first with the visual forms that give me inspiration and then with the artists. During this trip I have been lucky to meet Josefina Aguilar, a clay figure artisan and she agreed to collaborate on a few pieces. Josefina is now 71 years old and she is almost blind. Her children and grandchildren carry on the work. For our collaboration, her son Demetrio Aguilar prepared a few adorable pieces.

 Josefina Aguilar, a renown clay figure artist from Ocotlan, Oaxaca.

 

I have also met Victor and Lazaro, from the Fabian family, an Alebrijes makers and painters. They also agreed to collaborate with me and they added a few details on one of my pieces. This was a test to check how our styles match on one canvas. So far, it is looking very good together!

 Victor & Lazaro, working on their painting technique on my canvas.

 

I find that artisans are very open to new ideas and are not scared to collaborate and exchange knowledege and skills. Relations are naturally built by talking calmly and in an open, friendly manner. We ended up our visit at the Oaxacan Folk Art Museum, where we saw beautiful pieces from many different artisans, using techniques for making jewelry, clay, painting, Piñatas, textiles and much more.

 Oaxacan Folk Art Museum.

 

This week, after planning, commissioning and preparing artwork, my partner Gaby and I were able to assemble a few new pieces. This new collection is a collaboration with Josefina Aguilar and her clay figures. We also included embroidery from various regions, and many other beautiful hand-crafted items.

 New Frida Collection, waiting on the floor to be assembled.