SMU in Oaxaca

During winter term 2009-10, seven students will earn Art History/CF credit studying ancient archaeological sites, Colonial art and architecture, folk art and religious fiestas in the Valley of Oaxaca, the Sierra Norte, Sierra Madre del Sur and on the Pacific Coast as part of SMU-in-Oaxaca.

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Back to their roots

An update from Anne, a graduate student in history with a focus on the U.S. Southwest and Mexico who is doing research on Indian history:

Dec31-1.JPG (Photo left, program director Kathy Windrow at the church in Tlacochahuaya.)

New Year’s Eve in Oaxaca was probably not the typical holiday for most of us here. Instead of making plans with friends and family and pursuing the usual year-end activities, we spent a good portion of the day at renowned artisans Maria Luisa Cruz and Fidel Cruz Lazo’s house.

I would not have wanted the year to end in any other way, as it was the perfect experience to help usher in a new decade. This dynamic married couple make beautiful rugs. Their unique methods and high marks for quality have earned them numerous awards in Mexico and abroad, and by the end of the workshop, I just could not leave Mexico without taking a piece of them with me.

Dec31-2.jpg Although they use a Spanish-loom brought over during the era of conquest and colonization, they decided some years ago to return to their roots by dyeing colors with natural elements found in the region. Many of us were surprised by how many colors one can extract from plants, such as limes and pecans. (Photo right, student Megan making vegetable dye.)

Dec31-3.JPG However, this family did not always utilize its natural surroundings to make such dyes. When tourism became popular in Oaxaca decades ago, most weavers used ready-made dyes. What makes this couple so interesting and important among weavers is their decision to abandon such pre-dyed colors. This approach has brought them a great deal of attention and much acclaim in art circles, and their weavings warrant a solid price considering the time and attention they give their work, not to mention the hours of labor put into each piece.

And to top it off, they graciously served us a traditional Zapotec lunch.

During the evening, we all went to eat a delicious meal and spent our after-dinner conversation reminiscing about the day. Afterward, we made our way to the main square where we proceeded to take part in the New Year’s Eve festivities. While none of us made it home before midnight, including our intrepid professor and her assistant, we did make it back to our hotel safely. So long, 2009!

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