A Pueblo Initiative: Creation of a Folk Art Collective, Nocheztli

Reblogged with permisson from Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art
The traditional folk art culture of Oaxaca’s pueblos is at risk. As master artists age and die, many in the next generation are responding to the lure of the promise of more stable work, outside of the arts world, and sometimes even beyond Oaxaca. FOFA was formed in 2007 to address this looming crisis, devoting special attention to young artists by running contests, creating exhibitions of winners’ works that are memorialized in catalogs, and offering workshops on marketing and cultural history.
We are deeply impressed that o ne village has taken the initiative to preserve folk art traditions. In San Antonino Castillo Velasco, a pueblo in Oaxaca’ s Central Valley about forty minutes’ drive from Oaxaca City, the Garc í a family has understood this challenge and responded to it. Brother and sister ceramicists — who have been long-term participants and winners in FOFA contests since 2008 — and their mother and father, himself a master ceramicist, inter-wove some elements of FOFA’s projects with their local traditions and resources to create a unique approach.
Master Ceramicist Don José García, Sr. and his wife Reyna Teresita Mendoza
We share their remarkable story with the hope that you will support their efforts. The Garc í as have created a collective, Nocheztli  (the Nahuatl word for cochineal, a natural dye) , that is accessible to all members of the community. They have opened their family home and ceramic workshop, Manos Que Ven (Hands that See), as a meeting space.
José García, Jr.: Winner in Ceramics in FOFA’s 2016 young folk artists’ contest; Honorable Mention in FOFA’s 2008 and 2011 young folk artists’ contests
Sara García: Honorable Mention in Ceramics in FOFA’s 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016 young folk artists’ contests
Young people in the community are encouraged to join the collective and participate in a variety of workshops. These include media such as clay, paper and glue , flor inmortal ( dried flowers), embroidery, and other inexpensive materials. Community leaders have linked these folk art projects to traditional customs and ceremonies. On one occasion participants learned to make papier m â ch é masks for Xintagul , aZapotec custom associated with the Day of the Dead. A mask-making competition was held in which senior artists served as judges who awarded prizes to winners in three different age groups.
Participating artists at the collective
Nocheztli successfully brought several generations together in the community’s only cultural space. Young artisans took advantage of the common space and the chance to learn from the older generation.
Then the earthquake of September 2017 hit, seriously damaging the Garc í a family ‘s roof and floor. Although the Collective has received contributions of materials necessary to repair them, funds (about $1,200 US) are still needed for labor.
This difficult setback has inspired the Collective to think ahead — and to think creatively. Since this is the village’s only site for artistic collaboration, Nocheztli is eager to improve its space to allow exhibiting and selling artwork.
Additional participating artists
Nocheztli has shown that creativity and sustainability in the folk arts may require new sources of support and collaboration. FOFA salutes their initiative, and urges our members to contribute to the special fund we are hosting to assist the collective with reconstruction and enhancement of its facilities . Click on the “donate” button below — contributions are tax-deductible. We hope that project inspires artists elsewhere in Oaxaca to think beyond traditional individual and family-based art making.

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