Odilon Merino Morales
Medium of Work:
Odilon Morales, a master of backstrap loom weaving, creates astoundingly detailed garments in a style traditional to his homeland of Oaxaca, Mexico, and, more specifically, to the Amuzgo ethnic group. For centuries, artisans here have created beautiful textiles with the backstrap loom. The weaver straps the loom around his or her hips, and then rocks back and forth to adjust the tension on the cloth throughout the weaving process. In effect, then, the body becomes integrated with the loom, and while the loom itself is quite simple, the weaving process is dynamic and sophisticated.
For Morales, heritage is a crucial theme in his work. “Since I was born,” he said, “my grandparents and parents taught me to speak the Amuzgo language. They taught me also how to respect Mother Earth and the natural elements.” Both the loom and the textiles woven on it have deep significance within the indigenous community, and have come to symbolize the culture to the outside world. Backstrap weaving is also important economically: it enables artisans to financially sustain their families. Morales is perhaps best known for his huipiles— traditional, airy blouses and tunics woven with intense focus on detail and design. For centuries in this area, garments were designed to be easy-to-wear, with a focus on clean lines that’s countered with distinctively intricate designs.