Before I become completely immersed in the myriad of activities related to and surrounding Day of the Dead, I want to write a post about Porfirio Gutiérrez, another of the talented and creative weavers from Teotitlán del Valle I have come to know.
I first met Porfirio via my blog and we soon became Facebook friends. However, we didn’t actually meet in person until last November’s, Feria Exposición Maestros del Arte in Chapala, Jalisco. I made a beeline for his booth and introduced myself to him and his sister, Juana Gutiérrez Contreras. Porfirio’s recognition and warmth made me feel truly welcome — like we were long-lost friends.
While, as you can see from the video, The Weaver From The Place of Gods, Porfirio is soft-spoken, he is exceedingly passionate about his Zapotec heritage and the preservation of the textile traditions of his village. His knowledge, talent, and dedication led him to be one of four native artists to be chosen to participate in last year’s, Artist Leadership Program sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.
A key component of the Smithsonian program was, following their residency, each artist was charged with returning to their community to share their knowledge, with the goal of preserving the wisdom and techniques refined and handed down from their ancestors. I had the privilege of attending the awarding of certificates and exposition that concluded the 9-day workshop, given in Teotitlán by Porfirio and Juana. The exposition was entitled El Ritual de los Sueños and took as its inspiration the traditional fiber mat, known as the petate. It is on the petate where babies are delivered, dreams occur, and in which bodies are wrapped before being placed their grave.
The family’s studio is located at Calle Simon Bolivar #6, Teotitlán del Valle and I can assure you, visitors will be warmly welcomed. And, who knows, you may come away with beautiful new, naturally dyed, hand-loomed treasure.
I already have a place on the wall reserved for one of Porfirio’s distinctly designed tapetes and am now saving my pesos.