I was recently invited by curator Maximiliano Grego to be in a group exhibition, Poeticas del Arte Contemporaneo, in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato at the Bicentenario Museo. Each artist was given a them, usually a poem to inspire their work. I was given the theme of the Otomi women (indigenous to the area) and their tradition of stamping their tortillas for fiestas and special occasions – perfect for me since I recently returned to the figure. “Los Tesoros del Pueblo” was the result. I used real stamps for the tortilla designs I had bought previously.
My artist statement:
I hold an image in my mind’s eye of women at the hearth. It’s an ancient universal vision that transcends local culture and is found in every corner of the world. Women cooking at the heart of the home or working over a communal fire is a traditional theme. She, as giver of life, provides strength and cohesiveness to the family and the community in many ways. In ‘Los Tesoros del Pueblo’, her arms encircle an offering of sustenance and healing. In Mexico, tortillas, central to each meal, remain a treasure of the culture.
I was told that in ancient times, the Otomi were a matrilineal culture and they worshipped the moon as the highest deity. Mother Earth was also celebrated for the bounty of her harvest. As in many cultures, it’s the women who keep the stories, the traditions and the symbols alive. The tortilla, a small round shape, patted out by hand is itself an archetype – the circle, a symbol of wholeness and universality.
The Otomi women embellish their tortillas with designs using sacred imagery. Each family has its own seal carved out of wood from the mesquite tree and the dark purple dye from the muicle plant is used to stamp the images. These circular woodcut designs are passed down from generation to generation and used to print the tortillas for special celebrations and fiestas. It is a testament to the Otomi women that this ritual remains alive to honor the ancestors and preserve ancient traditions.
As an artist, I take my inspiration from symbols and artefacts that honor women and the divine feminine from cultures around the world. My two books document these influences on my art: Art & Sacred Sites: Connecting with Spirit of Place and Symbols of the Spirit: A Meditative Journey Through Art.