Porfirio Gutiérrez and his family are masters of traditional Zapotec weaving and the creative skills associated with their fine art. They have descended from centuries of weavers and have no reason to doubt that their ancestors were weaving in pre-Columbian times. Their village, Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, has been famous for the art of weaving for centuries. Nearby ruins that date back as far as 500 BC still stand decorated with the same patterns and symbols that are used in today's designs.
• MISSION STATEMENT
• OUR FAMILY
• MODERN CHALLENGES
• EXHIBITIONS, LECTURES, PRESS
• FAMILIA GUTIÉRREZ - AREAS OF EXPERTISE
We are a family of Zapotec weavers practicing an art form as our ancestors have done for over 2500 years. Today we are on the verge of losing this ancient art forever due to changes in technology, the economy, and relative isolation. It is our mission to preserve our traditional art form through educating, demonstrating and reaching out to the world beyond Teotitlán del Valle. We invite you to learn through us and come to appreciate a beautiful, sustainable, and historically significant art form that is very much worth preserving.
• OUR FAMILY
Family life has always revolved around the looms, the central courtyard where we spin and dye the yarn, and the family dinner table where we come together at the end of the day and have conversations about our work. Almost always, one can hear the gentle rhythmic sounds of the looms.
Porfirio recalls, "As kids we would play around my father's big loom and watch as a new design would emerge. He would tell us about the symbols he was weaving and our Zapotec heritage. Every piece tells us a story through these elements and weaving each piece is like a meditation. These symbols are as old as our civilization. We can see them on Zapotec archeological sites, the stones in our church walls, and the nearby ruins at Monte Albán and Mitla. We have inherited our skills and artistic sensibilities from our ancestors who lived in the ancient Zapotec cities."
"We could not be more proud of the art we create nor more content with our way of life as artists. Each piece is unique and one of a kind, done with honesty and integrity using traditional methods that are natural and sustainable. Our sense of design and color have been honed to a very high level. Our work is in many private collections, galleries, and museum collections, including the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC and the Museum of Ventura County in California. It is very gratifying to make art to this standard."
• MODERN CHALLENGES
Serious challenges have arisen in the last couple of decades. Cheap chemical dyes have replaced natural dyes for almost all the weaving families in the village. They no longer know where to collect herbal dye plants or how to imbue their natural colors into the yarn. This skill is not being passed on to the younger generations.
It is Porfirio's passionate goal to preserve the family's traditional art and inherited Zapotec weaving techniques. The hope is that the centuries of their rich Zapotec culture is also their legacy to their descendants because it defines them as a family. But it has been increasingly difficult to sustain this goal financially because of a poor economy, a lack of tourism and other factors (see A SAD NEW REALITY).
In an effort to find appreciation for their art and enough financial validation to sustain it, Porfirio has emigrated to the United States where he exhibits, gives educational lectures, weaving & natural dye demonstrations, and hands-on workshops. All proceeds are shared by the family. All genuine weavings made by our family have a letter of authenticity than includes a list of natural dyes used in each piece and how to care for natural dye weavings. It also has simple tests for detecting natural dyes and chemical dyes.
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|EXHIBITIONS, LECTURES, PRESS
Porfirio has exhibited, lectured, and given demonstrations on Zapotec culture, natural plant dyes, traditional weaving and other subjects related to his art. He also acts as an advocate, educator and cultural ambassador. Through the art of weaving, he has promoted respect for his culture and the empowerment of his family and their community. In today's changing social and economic environment, his goal is to help ensure the continued survival of Zapotec culture. He has been invited on many occasions to represent the Zapotec people and his native Mexican culture and arts. Credits are listed below.
|• FAMILIA GUTIÉRREZ
The Gutiérrez family members and their roles in creating their traditional Zapotec weavings. Names with an asterisk* are in videos and photos on this website.