Monday, November 2, 2015

A visit to the Textile Museum in Oaxaca

It is always a treat to visit the Textile Museum (Museo textile de Oaxaca) when I am in Oaxaca.  One never knows what great exhibitions will be on display.  I love the brick work in the courtyard, reminds me of a contemporary Mitla. 
The second floor gallery has a wonderful textile collection by Katharina Von Ark. Her life long project is called Historias de Ciudades, History of Cities.   She was terrified of the increasing urban sprawl of the 20th century and it is a common theme in many of her tapestries.  She visited various parts of the world such at Mexico, New York and the middle east where local artists joined her in creating these fabulous pieces.  At the age of 15, she created her first tapestry featuring her home town near Zurich, Switzerland.  In honor of her Historias de Ciudades, the Swiss government has sponsored a traveling show of this collection to be shown in Mexico and other countries.
She was a journalist and artist known for her travel writing and the restoration of the Maison du Prieure in Romainmotier, a national heritage site in Switzerland, where she lived for over 50 years until her death in 2013 at the age of 85.
It was her work in Romainmotier that inspired the piece above, Trenes que pasan...trenes que vuelan - Trains leaving, trains flying.
Nueva York en Romainmotier - 2002
The Abbey of Romainmotier was set into the cityscape of New York City.   There are sins and goodness in all cities.  The left bottom corner is the Oolala brothel with its twinkling lights not far from the beautiful Abbey.  The soaring buildings devour the sky and the sprawling city swallows up the small neighboring towns. The tree guarding the Abbey looks like an old fossil from another time.  Only the cars seem to be in slow motion, just plugging away just like the snail.
An elaborate piece on Lima, Peru.  The ladies that worked on this showed Lima as a city always on the move; people at the beach, cars on the ground, birds and planes in the air, all kinds of boats in the water, the sun illuminating the buildings and the windows reflecting the light.  With all this vitality with in the city, you will find a cemetery filled with crosses.  This little girl was fascinated with Lima, just as much as I was.
A close up of the houses on the hill.
Infinita Sed de Petroleo en el Desierto - Infinite thirst of Oil in the Desert - 2003.
There are some hints of civilization with the tents, camels and a mosque along with the big limousine probably owned by an Arab sheik. 
Perfect selection of fabrics and materials.
Cuidad Ordenada - An Ordinary City - 2005
A contrast to her other pieces, here is a city scene that is very structured and orderly, an ideal urban setting.  Housing shown in primary colors certainly reflects warmth and happiness.
Vuelan los Arboles - Flying Trees - 2012
This was a project that supported the migrant woman.  Notice how the women all have colorful outfits on where as the men are in black or darker colors.
Nos Volamos el Muro - I Flew the Wall - 2015 
Dedicated women worked on the piece which shows their small pueblo and everyday life.  At the top is the United States with its skyscrapers, flag and large airplane.  It hits on how families are divided when many had gone to the states in search for work.  The large fabric wall of green and tan represents the border.  With humor, "No cruzamos el muro, me vole el muro."  "I did not cross the wall, I flew the wall.
A small scene with the mother wondering when her son will return to his native land.
And the father asking when his son will return to see him....
Aldea de los Ninos - Aldea de los Papas - Village of the Children - Village of the Fathers 
A two sided tapestry.  This side is an imaginary village, extravagant, with buildings, trees and other objects floating above the clouds just like a big dream.  I think it is safe to say this side is the village of the children.
This side, the houses in the village take up the entire space, place suited more for the fathers.
Huamantla, Toda una Tradicion -  Huamantla is one of the Magical villages of Mexico in the state of Tlaxcala.  It is a land of Mestizo, Nahuatl, Otomi and Spanish heritage.  In 1528, Carlos V named this village, Pueblo de San Luis Huamantla.  It a pueblo of country people, who work hard.  Some who have left but have returned to live in peace.  Those who have stayed, have kept the spirit of the pueblo alive.
There is the miraculous image of the Virgin of Charity.  On August 14, there is a procession  in her honor.  The people of the pueblo carry mats decorated with flowers and colored sawdust through the streets.  This tradition is known as "la noche que nadie duerme - the night no one sleeps."  For thirty days after the procession, these artistic rugs can be viewed in the atrium of the Basilica of Charity.
A closeup of a bullfighter above the bullring.
What great texture on the horse in the corn field.
The fireworks above the basilica with its stained glass windows are spectacular.
Aldea del Corazon de Ouagadougou - A Village with Heart in Ouagadougou
This tapestry began over a visit during Christmas and New Year's Eve in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa.  A scene of an African village with houses, kitchens, buildings and palm trees.  A place full of warmth and happiness where its people and nature coexist in great harmony.
Love the jeep with the bundles of goods on top. 
Tenochititlan - Mexico - Tlateloco
For eight months, every Sunday, a group of women would meet to work on this large piece.  Some of the work was done in the house of Katrina's daughter where she lived in Mexico City.  On return visits, Katrina would bring back new material and fabrics.  
A busy city filled with cabs and buses, people, animals, historic buildings, skyscrapers, a
rainbow, clouds, mountians, a pyramid and roads. 
 Asking for justice and the truth on the killings that occurred on October 2.  "Never forget them."
 Such vivid colors and textures.
I was really intrigued by the sense of dimension that was achieved on the pyramid and the dramatic, somewhat eerie stalks of corn.

It is a wonderful exhibition and photos really do not due the tapestries justice.  You need to see these in person to fully appreciate the depth, texture and color that went into executing these creative pieces.  My last group that I took to Oaxaca last month were very impressed by this show.

The exhibition is on view through January of 2016.

Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Calle Hidalgo 917
Centro Historico