Porfirio Gutierrez and Juana Gutierrez Contreras
Medium of Work:
Santa Fe: 2013, 2017, 2018
Master weaver Porfirio Gutierrez doesn’t just make art, he also works to preserve the ancient traditions of his Zapotec background. According to a recent profile of Gutierrez in The New York Times, “Mr Gutierrez is descended from a long line of weavers. His father taught him to weave as a child; he even wove the backpack he took to school.” Raised in the mountainous village of Teotitlan del Valle, Gutierrez learned as a child which plants to gather to create the best dyes.
His focus on using sustainable, regionally sourced materials continues today, and he has urged both fellow weavers and consumers to seek out natural dyes and naturally dyed fabrics whenever possible. Synthetic dyes are affordable and ready-made, but cheap chemical dyes not only produce inferior colors, they also prevent artists from maintaining centuries-old traditions of gathering dye materials themselves, and learning the highly specialized process of creating colors for their weavings. This is the impetus behind Gutierrez’s goal of preserving natural dyes and correspondingly, preserving traditions, in his homeland.
Gutierrez’s use of ancient art-making methods is something of a counterpart to the fiercely innovative approach he uses when incorporating new designs into his creative repertoire. Gutierrez has achieved international acclaim for his modern interpretation of traditional Zapotec designs, and his work is held in numerous private and public collections, including in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Ventura County in California. Currently, Gutierrez lives and works in the United States, offering workshops, weaving demonstrations, and participating in a range of exhibitions.