Preservers, Innovators, and Rescuers of Culture in Chiapas
Bresler Family Gallery North Carolina, USA
17.11.2023 – 13.07.2024

Preservers, Innovators, and Rescuers of Culture in Chiapas 17.11.2023 – 13.07.2024 Bresler Family Gallery North Carolina, USA

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Aram Han Sifuentes

Preservers, Innovators, and Rescuers of Culture in Chiapas features eleven textiles by acclaimed Indigenous artisanas  (artists) from Chiapas, Mexico commissioned by US-based fiber artists and activist Aram Han Sifuentes. As part of their 2022 Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship, Han Sifuentes traveled to Chiapas to understand the function of garments and textiles within the social and cultural context of the area and to learn the traditional practice of backstrap weaving. Through the works on view, combined with a series of interviews Han Sifuentes conducted during her research, visitors learn about the artisanas and their role as preservers, rescuers, and innovators of culture and as protectors of Mayan ancestral knowledge. Together, these works present an approach to connecting and learning about culture through craft practices

Han Sifuentes is interested in backstrap weaving because it is one of the oldest forms used across cultures. The vibrant hues and elaborate designs of each textile express the artisanas identities and medium to tell their stories. To understand how these values manifested in textiles made in Chiapas, Han Sifuentes invited the artisanas to create whatever weaving they desired over the course of three months.  This is unique because most textiles in the area are created to meet tourist-driven and marketplace demands. Incorporating traditional backstrap weaving and natural dye techniques, some artisans created textiles to rescue or reintroduce weaving practices that are almost or completely lost in their communities, while others were created through material and conceptual experimentation. This range of approaches reflects how artistanas are constantly innovating while at the same time honoring and keeping to tradition.

Preservers, Innovators, and Rescuers of Culture in Chiapas is on view from November 17, 2023 to July 13, 2024.

Aram Han Sifuentes is a recipient of the Center for Craft’s 2022 Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship. This substantial mid-career grant is awarded to two artists to support research projects that advance, expand, and support the creation of new research and knowledge through craft practice.

The featured artisanas include: Juana Victoria Hernandez Gomez from San Juan Cancuc, Maria Josefina Gómez Sanchez and Maria de Jesus Gómez Sanchez from Oxchujk (Oxchuc), Marcela Gómez Diaz and Cecilia Gómez Diaz from San Andrés Larráinzar, Rosa Margarita Enríquez Bolóm from Huixtán, Cristina García Pérez from Chalchihuitán, Susana Maria Gómez Gonzalez, Maria Gonzalez Guillén, and Anastacia Juana Gómez Gonzalez from Zinacantán, Angelica Leticia Gómez Santiz from Pantelhó, and Susana Guadalupe Méndez Santiz from Aldama

Opening Reception
November 17, 2023 5:00 - 7:00pm ET
Exhibition Program
Craft Research Talks: Community, Tradition, and Culture a UNC Asheville Humanities Common Lecture 
Program Date: Wednesday, November 15, from 11:00 - 12:00 pm ET
Program Location: The lecture is in the Mullen James Lecture Hall at the University of North Carolina Asheville and will be live-streamed and recorded. 
Bresler Family Gallery

More information: Preservers, Innovators, and Rescuers of Culture in Chiapas | Center for Craft

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