The Art of Handmade: A Zapotec Weaver in the 21st century

Lecture | January 19 | 5-7 p.m. |  Hearst Museum of Anthropology

 Porfirio Gutierrez

 Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

Join us for the closing lecture of the inaugural exhibit People Made These Things: Connecting with the Makers of Our World. Weaver Porfirio Gutiérrez will speak about his work as an artist and the work of his community to preserve the use of plant and insect dyes, techniques that stretch back more than 1,000 years in the indigenous Zapotec tradition. This talk will open a three day series of events which include a textile sale and natural dye workshop. Enjoy light refreshments before the lecture which will begin at 5:30pm.
Porfirio Gutiérrez is a proud descendant of many generations of Zapotec weavers from Teotitlán del Valle, in Oaxaca, Mexico. For over 2000 years, this town has cradled Zapotec arts and culture. It is known for its traditional Zapotec weavings made of hand spun yarns dyed with local plants and insects. Ancient woven symbols developed over centuries relate to Zapotec beliefs and history.
As a child Gutiérrez showed exceptional talent for color and design. At age 12, His father, who was already a master weaver, saw his potential and took every opportunity to help him develop and refine his artistic skills as a weaver. As Gutiérrez grew as an artist, his appreciation for his Zapotec heritage deepened. Stories told by his elders about cultural myths, the Zapotec way of life in the past and present, and the value of nature, have all given him a more profound understanding of who he is, and have influenced his personal expression through art.
When Gutiérrez eventually settled in California, the artistic roots that were deep set in Oaxaca were expanded upon and integrated into influences from life in urban America. Gutiérrez's transition from weaving the traditional designs of his ancestors to his work today is more of a melding than a departure. Old materials and cultural themes merged with broad stroked, liberated design. There is no mistaking where he has come from artistically, and yet there is a progressive reinvention of the original elements of his culture through the lens of modern America.
His work has now been shown in eight countries on four continents. While primarily an artist, Gutiérrez also lectures on Zapotec weaving and natural dyes at universities, arts foundations, and museums. The story of his art has been told in publications, and videos televised on PBS, Univision, as well as a documentary funded by the Smithsonian Institute's NMAI. In 2015 Gutierrez was chosen by the Smithsonian Institute to be one of only four artists in the Western hemisphere to participate in their prestigious Artist In Leadership Program. He also contributed to the Forbes Pigment Collection at Harvard University. Gutiérrez continues to be an advocate, educator and ethnic ambassador for traditional Zapotec culture.

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