From the painting to the frame

Shop in the center of San Miguel de Allende

Rocio Edith Pindter Ortiz is an artist and artisan from San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. She began her career after graduating  Universidad de Guadalajara with a degree in fine arts in 1985, mostly in graphic work and painting canvases with themes for children.

Originally from Mexico City, Pindter moved to San Miguel, and in the early 2000s began to incorporate materials and themes from the area’s handcraft traditions, in particular the use of tin and nickel silver. At first, these were used as frames for her work. However, the positive reception these had eventually made them the center of attention.

Shadow box frames

The frames grew into nichos (niches) also called retablos (altarpieces), which in Mexican folk Catholic tradition are pieces of metal or wood with the image of a saint painted on them, to be left as an offering. However, Pindter’s nichos are not generally flat and not necessarily religious.  She has developed them into a kind of shadow box, with hinged doors, sculpted and painted borders, glass and multiple panels, generally enclosing a singular image, most often that of the Virgin of Guadalupe or Frida Kahlo.

RocioEdithSMA004While traditional metals still form the base of these nichos, Pindter’s artistic training and outlook comes into play as well, especially with the addition of “modern” elements such as mirrors, sequins, chains, paper mache, beads, stones and more. However, most of the decoration is painted by hand. It is a mix of traditional and new, which Pindter believes to be important. She believes that updating keeps handcrafts traditions more authentic, rather than trying to recreate and era that has long passed.

The nichos are created in her workshop, located on the roof of her home. All aspects of the shadow boxes are handcrafted from cutting and joining metal and glass to painting and other decoration. The only thing that is not usually made by the workshop are the images  which are placed inside. She has about 20 or so people who help out in the workshop, mostly students who come and work after school or on vacations. They work in just about all aspects of production, under Pindter’s supervision.

Although the nichos are the base of her business, she is always experimenting with other items.

Decorated miniature chairs

Pindter has shipped pieces to the United States and several countries in Europe, but most of her sales are at handcraft and decorative arts exhibitions,in particular the Exposición Nacional de Artículos de Regalo y Decoración Artesanal Mexicana (Enart) in Tlaquepaque (in August), Jalisco and the Feria Maestros de Arte in Chapala, Jalisco (in November). She also has a small store with her works in downtown San Miguel de Allende, located across the street from the Centro Cultural, or main cultural center of the city.

A portion of the workshop


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