(Please click on the photos to enlarge)
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday that is celebrated more in the U.S. than across the border, I’m posting some photos of my studio, which is a celebration of Mexico, its art and folk customs. It’s also an informal exhibition of treasures collected during travels to Mexico, Greece, and India. It throws Hindu gods, carved wooden crucifixes, figures of saints and angels and goddesses together in one overcrowded space, but they all seem to be happy together.
Our house is an antique New England farmhouse and every other room is decorated in character, with Windsor chairs, blanket chests, stencils of pineapples and antique quilts. But in my studio I’ve gone crazy with primitive art and color and my favorite collectibles. (As I mentioned the other day, I seem to collect EVERYTHING.)
One wall is all book cases and cabinets built to hold my books on art and photography. In the cabinets below are craft supplies and many glass-topped display cases with my antique cased images (daguerreotypes and ambrotypes) sorted according to category.
That makes it all sound organized, but, as you can see from the photos, it’s pretty much a mess, which I think is an artist’s prerogative. (Who said a messy desk indicates a creative mind? It certainly wasn’t my mother!)
Right now it’s messier than usual because I’ve been pulling out my watercolors of Greek scenes and people in preparation for the Grecian Festival art exhibit at our church, St. Spyridon Cathedral, coming up on June 4, 5 & 6.
While photographing my studio, I realized that it’s not only a celebration of Mexico and India, it’s also a celebration of women (especially Crone power!) There are so many angels, saints and goddesses, subconsciously chosen, I think, to direct their divine powers toward my painting and photography.
And everywhere there are handmade textiles and embroideries, carvings and paintings, mostly made by women and attesting to their religious or political beliefs and hopes.
Most of the women in Mexico and India who sold me their handiwork are living on the edge of poverty, using their talents and skills to survive. I feel very fortunate that I can not only travel and admire their work and afford to buy it, but that I also have a room of my own to display and enjoy it.
If you look closely at the photos you will see:
On the wall – hupils—embroidered blouses from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec-- which the indigenous women still wear as part of their local costumes. The various designs and colors identify the village they come from.
Hindu gods and goddesses—all in a row.
Retablos—paintings on metal asking for a favor from a saint or thanking the divine powers for favors received.
Greek votives figures (tamata)—silver or tin shapes that are hung on icons, to do pretty much the same thing.
Dolls from my vast collection of dolls of the world—including women and children dressed as Zapatista leader Commandante Marcos—masked with guns and ammunition belts!
A book of Graciela Iturbide photographs.
A cross made out of bottle caps
Kites of paper designed by the famous Oaxacan artist Francesco Toledo who celebrates his Mayan ancestry.
Day of the Dead posters from Oaxaca.
Wooden animals (Alebrijes) carved in Oaxaca of copal wood
Carved textile stamps from India for making block-printed fabrics.
An embroidered pillow from Guatemala, of a man walking through what appears to be a graveyard.
A plastic tote bag with a sequined Guadalupe.
Garlic against the evil eye.
Painted bowls made from gourds
Purses made from antique hupils
A Greek shadow puppet
Lots of antique photos
Photos of my kids when they were young.