Faustino Flores Meneses
Many artists look to the past for creative inspiration, but certainly very few transform it in as literal a sense as the weavers of Hilos y Colores, the Ayacucho, Peru artist collective founded by Faustino Flores Meneses. In this rural area, artisans study ancient Wari pottery, known for its geometric and sometimes whimsically anthropomorphic features, and other relics of the past like ancient burial shrouds, as a basis for fascinating tapestries and garments. Elsewhere, Hilos y Colores’s hundreds of mostly female artists tap into their natural surroundings for inspiration, stitching tropical plants and resplendent toucans onto pillow coverings and other fabric items.
Flores and his creative partner and wife Mercedes Yauri learned to weave in the workshop of Edwin Sulca, a respected weaver in the Santa Ana district of Ayacucho. Today, top apprentices at Flores’s bustling workshop are entrusted with the laborious weaving process. For textiles as exquisitely patterned as they are appealingly textured, the collective’s artisans gather sheep’s wool from high Andean herders. After the yarn is prepared, it’s dyed with pigments culled from locally harvested walnuts, roots, and other organic substances. These indigenous dyes are not only vividly hued, but also environmentally friendly. Ayacuchan textile techniques are handed down from generation to generation from parents to sons and daughters.
The thriving workshop, nestled in the hills of Peru, fosters hundreds of artists; its founder Faustino continues to lead both regional and international workshops and demonstrations. Mercedes, too, is deeply involved in the teaching process, sharing her knowledge of embroidery techniques and color combination to those far and wide—ensuring these traditional, historically influenced fine artworks can be enjoyed by and created for generations to come.