Month: May 2011

From inspiration to quilt.

In 1941 Eleanor Coen became the first woman to win the James Nelson Raymond Traveling Fellowship in painting at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago. She chose to go to Mexico rather than Europe, the traditional choice prior to that time, because of the atmosphere in Europe, pre WW II. Eleanor Coen's work in Mexico included a fresco mural in San Miguel de Allende at the Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Arts, which is now a national monument. At that time her work was influenced by Clement Orozco, although her mural's subject matter, women washing at a river with children was clearly from a woman's point of view. Without knowing the history of this mural I stood and studied it for a long time on one of my visits here… As a result it became the subject of one of my quilts. My own small part of Mexico and San Miguel Allende, a thread painting of the image.

So little time.

One of the things I'm disappointed in this trip is the lack of time I've had to sketch. I don't know, I need more hours in the day. Photos, film and the blog take up a lot of time and then I'm just plain busy. Then again I have a lot of material to work with  when I get home…!!!! Even Alice has stayed in the sketchbook… but she has to come out this evening. I didn't mention that Cheryl, and I did a workshop with the quilters of San Miguel a few days ago…. They very kindly gave us all the supplies… and Janet showed us how to create beautiful scarves from torn silk and thread….we will all wear them tonight at our dinner. There is music everywhere in San Miguel. As you walk down the street, in restaurants,  parks and houses. We attended a choral concert yesterday afternoon.   The mariachi play constantly in the Jardin, there is a permanent stage for visiting artists and last night we attended a concert in the …


Oh dear. Last night, I went to bed, re-read the blog on the Ipad and realised that I hadn't written in what a huilpil is. "A huipil is an embroidered blouse worn by indigenous women in southern Mexico and much of Central America. The blouses are particular to individual communities and are worn for special occasions. Additionally, the huipiles are sold as folk art and are quite popular." You can purchase them in many stores here and sadly many of them are cut up to make bags… But of course it's not just Huipiles that we were talking about yesterday, the women wear the most beautiful embroidered outer garments and scarves…. some of which I've collected before… Each region has their own style of dress. You don't see it too much in the cities now, but in the countryside the garments are favored over western dress. We will be purchasing some of these amazing embroideries as textile decorations in the hotel.

recapping the video.

This is a video I made with friend Sheri Brautigam last year. We spent 7 days in the village of Teotitlan and followed the process of spinning, weaving and dying silk. We were studying film making and this was our small piece. It's fascinating and I was reminded of the film today because I went to a lecture by Sheri on Huipiles of Oaxaca. What on earth is a Huipil you ask..? Its a fascinating subject and we sat in a crowded room and listened as Sheri related her experiences going from village to village documenting these amazing garments. I do have an antique Huipil myself and I hope to purchase more textiles when I go to Oaxaca next week. Well it's midnight and time to retire.    

Motivation solved…

Well, I solved the motivation problem. We took a long walk down the cobblestone road from our house to a fabulous restaurant. We chatted with people on the way and with others in the restaurant. We ate ice cream, sat in the Jardin with 100's of others and watched as the  mariachi sang, played and danced the night away. Wendy suggested I have a margarita… Carolyn asked if Wendy knows about my lock jaw….? So I will share my secret…..I think I'm the only person in the world who gets lock jaw when they drink alchohol….but sometimes the pain is worth it.. and I've had a few margaritas this trip. The past few days have been a whirl of business, creative experiences and sharing time with friends. I watched with fascination and awe as talented artists created the most beautiful fittings for the hotel. I've looked at the most beautiful textiles, and designed pottery for planters…table tops and platters. watched the sunset from our balcony and dealt with bats in the belfry during the night…. …