Like many aspects of Peruvian life, Eleudora Jimenez’s retablos begin with deeply grounded religious faith and potatoes. Together with native plants, potato flour plaster, and the bountiful colors found throughout the Andean world, clear images of her world realize themselves through scenes that depict daily life to the sublime. Eleudora’s Ayacucho-style retablos, a craft taught […]
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, […]
Oaxacan wood carving—using a smooth wood called copal—dates back to pre-Hispanic times, when the ancestors of artisans like Manuel made wood carvings for practical use. With the arrival of the Spanish, Catholic symbolism began to be incorporated into items whose purpose had religious meaning as well as ancient, indigenous relevance. In the late 20th century, […]
In the lively neighborhood of Croix des Bouquets in Haiti, artists are drumming up quite an artistic endeavor for themselves—literally. Large metal drums and barrels come into this island nation containing all kinds of products, from juice to motor oil. Instead of discarding them, though, master metal workers like Mikerson Jean transform these unlikely materials […]
In search of some truly original footwear? Look no further than the fantastical designs of Natalia Santamaria, who works closely with Colombia’s finest indigenous artists to create an array of boots, flats, and even high heels, all adorned with the dynamic, many-hued colors typical of Andean peoples. “Every design I create,” says Santamaria, “comes from […]
Long before the Spanish arrived in Mexico, indigenous people created artworks as ingenious as they were visually appealing. Continuing that tradition today are master woodcarvers Florencia Espinal Ramírez and Vicente Castillo, a veritable creative dream team. Together, they make a range of extraordinary lacquered boxes designed to hold any number of treasures. “Our community is […]
Master artisan Daniela Quiniones leads a team of around 80 women, all intent on making the most beautiful and sturdy woven items imaginable, crafted in a range of beguiling colors and time-tested materials. Quiniones primarily relies on the cabuya palm. Though its relatives include agave and other similarly spiny varietals, this plant is only found […]
Aurora Rodriguez de Caura was the first woman to leave Boca de Ninchare, a small village of 100 residents, to attend school. In the relatively rural area of Venezuela, this in and of itself is highly usual, especially since her schooling was at the insistence of her father. This independently minded woman eventually returned to […]
Husband and wife team Nicolás and María del Rosario stand out for their charmingly sculpted and intricately finished clay artworks. They live and work in Santa Fe de la Laguna, a small Purhepecha village located on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro in the Mexican state of Michoacán.
This area has been a pottery production center since […]
The evocatively named artist group Mexican Dreamweavers is a thriving cooperative located in the historically rich region of Oaxaca, Mexico. From elaborately patterned blouses to gently hued pillowcases and table coverings, Mexican Dreamweaver has long been committed to using natural dyes of cochineal, indigo and tixinda (sea snail purple), as well as handspun regional cotton […]
The fantastically beautiful and technically accomplished carved wood sculpture of Jesús Sosa Santiago originates with copal wood, indigenous to Oaxaca, which is revered for its durability and smoothness. Santiago is a recognized master of this artform, which he learned from his father—who in turn learned from his father before him. For Santiago, carving both sacred […]
One of Michoacan, Mexico’s most recognized and prize-winning folk artists, Hilario Alejos Madrigal makes traditional pineapple pots, decorated with elaborate details of incision, appliqué and openwork. This requires exceptional mastery not only in clay sculpture, but also in the dual firings necessary for each piece. These colorful pineapple-shaped pots, long associated with hospitality and goodwill, […]
In the heart of Port-au-Prince, Valentin Valris creates incredibly detailed and utterly unique textiles, most of which are inspired by the rich tradition of Voodoo. His cloth-backed, sequin- and bead-covered tapestries literally dazzle, sometimes depicting a story of daily life, and sometimes a loi – a spirit – of the pantheon of Voodoo gods. Valris […]
In the lushly beautiful city of Rionegro, master jeweler Luis Alberto Cano runs artist collective Precoarte, which for decades has been focused on preserving ancient, indigenous creative techniques. This group of around forty artists crafts elaborately detailed and often technically breathtaking fine metal jewelry, working exclusively with 24-karat-gold plated brass and silver.
When it comes to […]
Upon first glance, the brightly colored, graphic designs of AMAPOLAY look purely contemporary. Nevertheless, this Lima, Peru-based collective uses screen-printing—a technique with ancient origins—along with deeply traditional motifs and references rendered in eye-catching color and scale–to raise awareness about Lima’s now-urban indigenous populations.
Lima’s vibrant gráfica popular tradition comes from working class immigrant neighborhoods and shantytowns […]
The colorful ceramic sculpture of Puebla, Mexico-based artisan Jorge Castillo Balbuena appear whimsical at first glance, but a deeper look shows the breathtaking amount of technical skill they require. As a fifth-generation artist, Balbuena learned his creative practice from a young age, under the watchful tutelage of his father.
The making process is an intensive one. […]
The Lorenzo family of Guerrero, Mexico is unique among Mexican retablo-makers; not only does the multi-generational trio of artisans—helmed by patriarch Lucas for decades—work together, the group of painters also creates distinctive scenes which capture both timelessly beloved Mexican imagery as well as contemporary and often playful takes on traditional retablo paintings. Comprising Lucas, Aureliano, […]
Intricately detailed and often ecstatically colorful, the textiles produced by Cusco, Peru-based artisan Timoteo Ccarita Sacaca and his team of weavers are remarkable for their creativity and beauty. For centuries, this region’s distinctive garments identified their wearers by gender, marital status, and their community roles. Ponchos, for instance, perhaps the most recognizable Andean garment, were […]
From tasseled, brightly colored hat bands to ceremonial ponchos, Peru’s Association of Weavers Q’ero offers a veritable feast of exquisitely detailed, beautifully crafted woven items. Nestled in an Andean highland region, the Hatan Q’ero indigenous group is a Quechua-speaking community with roots in rural areas surrounding Cusco. Weaving is integral to the Q’ero way of […]
Born in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, master artisan Marco Antonio Ruiz and his family emigrated to the United States for several years; it was here where he first fell in love with art, while watching his mother hand-stitch and decorate cloth dolls, which she sold at markets; the artist remembers being in awe of his mother’s handiwork. […]
The historical city of Salamanaca, Mexico, is home to a fascinating blend of indigenous and colonial architecture, music, and artwork. Master artist Josué Eleazar Castro Razo hails from this area, and his meticulously crafted, handmade toys captivate the young and the young-at-heart. Razo’s colorful sculptures feature bustling fiestas, dinosaurs, and even bakeries complete with apron-bedecked […]
Nestled in the dense Amazonian jungles of Ecuador, the traditional ceramics of the Kichwa Canelos Pueblo peoples remain mostly unchanged for centuries. And yet they are also continually evolving, thanks to the efforts of individual artists like Rosa Canelos Vargas. Showcasing ornamental and ritual designs on functional forms, Rosa’s work serves both utilitarian and decorative […]
Asociación Chimichagua began in 1995, in a region of northern Colombia that nudges up against the Caribbean Sea. Named after the town of Chimichagua, this artisan-run network began as a loose group of craftspeople until the town’s mayor urged them to form a structured organization in order to receive legal status—and also in order to […]
The artisans of Colombia’s Asociación Gloria de Dios, founded in 2009, make strikingly intricate, hand-woven baskets using indigenous materials: the hardy fibers of indigenous tetera and chocolatillo plants. Both species flourish along the Pacific Coast of Colombia, but the region’s proximity to the sea doesn’t make it a tourist center. Their town of Guapi, one […]
Deceptively delicate in appearance, the finely woven, lightweight jigras created by members of Artesanías Koreguaje Pairepa are as fastidiously crafted as a section of lace—only these elaborate items are far more durable. As tough as fishermen’s nets but as ephemeral as spiderwebs, the bags, hammocks, and other woven items are designed to satisfy the many […]
Using the continent- and centuries-spanning process of woodblock printing, Cuban artist Dairan Fernández de la Fuente creates work steeped in the ever-evolving cultural heritage of his hometown of Havana. Dairan works from his studio, Taller de Gráfica Experimental, in downtown Havana. He uses traditional woodworking tools in a printing process, which is done entirely by […]
In the richly historic area of Holguín, Cuba, is a print shop, which for years has steadily been crafting an array of paper products: from greeting cards to beautifully designed journals, novels, and books of poetry. In doing so, paper—a seemingly routine material—is elevated into something approaching the most refined original artwork imaginable. “We draw […]
Non-profit organization Haiti Projects is steadfastly focused on financially empowering the women of this impoverished country, while simultaneously encouraging their creativity and health, and their children’s well-being. Nestled in the town of Fond des Blancs, Haiti Projects is currently the second largest employer in a region where over 60,000 people live with no electricity or […]
The centuries-old designs of the Mayan people provide the inspiration and innovation for more than 50 women rug makers from the highlands of Guatemala. Their handmade hooked rugs, made by recycling the cast-off clothing of their North American neighbors, are preserving their ancestral artistry and building economic stability. Rather than investing in expensive wool and […]
At ten years old, Julio Laja Chichicaxtle’s grandmother taught him how to make manteles, a type of traditional Mexican tablecloth with ancient roots in the region of Puebla, Mexico, where he was born. “When I was little,” says Chichicaxtle, “I knew this type of craftsmanship was going to influence my life in the future because […]
San Antonino Castillo Velasco, Oaxaca is home to a centuries-old ceramic tradition, and also the residence of sculptor José Luis Reyes Martínez. Martínez’s pieces are both beautiful and ceremonial, with local citizens routinely requesting figures for special occasions such as Day of the Dead or Christmas.
The family workshop, where Martínez continues to show and sell […]
Mella, a village in southeastern Cuba, is the home of 8-member artist collective El Grupo Bayate: self-taught artists who support each other socially and creatively. The group was formed in 1994 by Luis Joaquin “ El Panadero” Rodriguez Arias, who passed on this painting tradition to his son, known as “El Estudiante.” Along with six […]
Residing in San Antonio Arrazola, a town in Oaxaca, Mexico, master carver Armando Jimenez is known for his brightly painted, whimsical sculptures.
He is the grandson of Manuel Jimenez, who was a much-celebrated carver in the middle of the twentieth century, with clients including Nelson Rockefeller. The Jimenez family are recognized as masters of creating alebrijes, […]
Multicolores, or many-colored, is about as fitting of a name as possible for this cooperative artist group from central Guatemala. Ecstatically hued embroidery adorns pillows, footstools, and other home goods, lend a punch of happy color to any room. Some of the rugs depict animals—butterflies and birds in flight are popular embellishments—while others rely on […]
Soledad Martha Hernández de Castillo was born in Izúcar de Matamoros, a town in the Puebla region of Mexico, which has long been a renowned pottery center. Taught by her mother and father, Castillo creates ornately configured, vividly colored traditional clay artwork using both ancient techniques and contemporary inspiration.
The tradition of designing, sculpting, and painting […]
While some folk artists create a broad range of items in various mediums, Boyaca, Colombia’s Marlen Pacheco is focused on one thing: making some of the most durable and beautiful woven jute rugs available anywhere in the world. Using materials purchased from artisans in the city of Santander, Colombia, Pacheco uses a hand-operated loom to […]
Creaciones Ecologicas La Colonia (CRÉELA) is a women’s cooperative based in Cotuí, Dominican
The co-op, which has 25 members, meets weekly in Cotuí. During meetings, the women work on their bags, discuss personal and group concerns, and enjoy each other’s company. Profits from the bags go directly to the women and their families. For many, selling […]
Artesanías Chilenas is one the most important organization of Artisans in Crin. The group of 15 artists works in the town of Rari to create their jewelry from horse hair. Since the entire process is done by hand, each piece has a unique identity. Their brightly colored and intricately woven figures include flowers, butterflies, and […]
For Chilean master jeweler Paillamilla Ortiz, the art of silver-working transcends easy description. A native of historic Temuco, Chile, located just south of Santiago, Ortiz first learned his craft as a teenaged apprentice, working under a master jeweler in Temuco. The elegance of Ortiz’s designs, which incorporate ancient indigenous forms as well as Spanish Colonial […]
Ceramicist Artemio Poma Gutiérrez, a member of Peru’s Quinoa group in the Ayacucho region of Peru, has an elegant, distinctive style of creating a style of pottery that has been characteristic of this region for many hundreds of years.
Raised in a family of artisans, Artemio started experimenting with art-making as a child by assisting his […]
For Argentinian textile artist Ramón Gutiérrez, weaving beautiful, heirloom-quality garments and accessories is a way of life. He was born in Laguna Blanca, part of Argentina’s magnificently beautiful Patagonia region, to a family of shepherds and craftspeople. Laguna Blanca has been renowned as a weaving center for hundreds of years, with artisans producing warm and […]
Hailing from Bogotá, Colombia, artisan and cooperative member Rosmery Uribe has been dedicated to the creation of traditional South American molas—ornately designed, colorful textiles with meanings both sacred and universal—for decades. The origins of this truly unique artform date back to pre-Spanish times, beginning with Colombia’s Gunadule ethnic group, who used to paint their bodies […]
Oaxacan silver filigree is famous the world-over. For hundreds of years, artisans from this fertile region in Mexico have been crafting take-your-breath-away jewelry in ornate, regionally specific designs. When you add agate, opal, mother-of-pearl, peridot—and even 20-centavo coins—into the mix, you get the ingeniousness of Oaxacan master jeweler Yesenia Yadira Salgado Téllez.
Born in 1987, Yesenia […]
Carla Fernández is a Mexico City-based fashion designer inspired by the richness of indigenous textiles of Mexico. She has collected and cataloged hundreds of indigenous garments, discovering that almost all of them were made from square and rectangular shaped fabrics. Carla has followed this concept to tailor her garments. She works with more than 94 […]
Inspired by his personal history, living in the heart of Cuba surrounded by fields of sugar cane and the simplicity of farmer’s lives, Roberto Esteban’s paintings mirror more than its colors and textures. Roberto learned to paint over 20 years ago from various workshops and from other artists. He uses a variety of materials to […]
Daniel’s colorful skeleton figurines are used to celebrate the festival of Day of the Dead each year in Mexico. The painting of each piece is very detailed and colorful, expressing the happiness that is felt when one’s loved ones are remembered and honored on this special day.
Colombian artist collective Divino Niño was founded by master artisans Reinel Mendoza and Magno Mahecha, members of the indigenous Zenu group in the northwestern part of Colombia. Throughout the course of a history that spans thousands of years, the Zenu people have developed a distinctive, highly refined approach to art making.
Traditionally, skills and techniques are […]
Peruvian artisan Lider Rivera Matos, a lifelong citizen of Lima, Peru, makes jewelry and home goods using a material you might not be familiar with: cow horn. Merging ancient tradition with new techniques and contemporary designs, Matos’ instantly recognizable style is rivaled only by the uniqueness of his material.
Matos’ works are sustainable, since he gathers […]
if you’re lucky, you’ve seen the psychedelically colorful, energetically configured yarn paintings traditional to parts of Mexico in person: if so, you know the name “yarn painting” is a misnomer, because there’s no paint involved. Instead, master artists like Rafael Cilau Valadez craft intricate compositions in rainbow hues out of yarn, meticulously arranging animal, plant, […]
The art of making filigree jewelry was brought to Mexico in the 16th century from Spain. Oaxaca is known for its fine filigree pieces. The earrings, necklaces, pendants, rings and bracelets are traditionally worn during Oaxacan festivals and weddings, but many people have begun to wear them daily.
Both Isaias Federico Barragan Baustista and Federico Jimenez […]
Hailing from a long line of “retablistas” or sculptors of traditional, diorama-like artworks known as retablos, Claudio Jimenez Quispe was born in the mountainous Andean region of Ayacucho, Peru. As a young boy, Quispe was eager to try his hand at creating retablos. Claudio’s father was well-known in the area for his elaborately carved religious […]
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 […]
Residents of Haiti have been practicing vodou for centuries, but, from a Western perspective, it still remains a largely misunderstood religious practice. Traditional Haitian artisan Georges
Valris expands upon many hundreds of years worth of artistic practices to formulate his beautifully adorned, highly distinctive mixed media artworks. Whether in the form of woven and embellished bags […]
Colombian basketry artist Crucelina Chocho Opua is member of the Wounaan indigenous group, which is native to parts of Central and South America. An expert in werregue weaving, she lives with her father in the town of El Litoral de San Juan, along the Pacific Coast. As a little girl she watched her mother and […]
La Paz, Bolivia, is the gorgeous setting for Workshop Laureke, an artist cooperative whose focus is on producing top-quality jewelry and accessories in a range of materials. Sterling silver is acquired regionally, from small refineries in the Bolivian city of Potosi. Traditional styles include finely wrought, dangling earrings, beautifully detailed “tupus” or brooches, and necklaces, […]
Expertly tooled leather, in pleasing shades of tan, beige, or rich sienna, is crafted into a range of enchanting goods at the hands of Argentinian master artisan, Jerónimo Coll. He is perhaps best known for the knives and dining sets he makes. With handles of finely sewn leather in alternating colors and meticulous patterns, they’re […]
The group of artisans behind Colombia’s Comunidad Central Corocito collective are focused on producing items traditional to the region’s ancient Sikuani indigenous people, who have inhabited the Eastern Plains of Colombia for untold generations. Traditionally, they lived in semi-sedentary villages, where households were highly mobile and engaged in hunting and gathering activities. Later they settled […]
Brightly colored bags with woven straps, embellished with tassels are just some of the items of offer from Maria Concepcion Ospina Gomez of Colombia, who is from the Wayúu ethnic group. Kayuusipaa—now comprising around 35 individual artists—was founded by Gomez in order to expand her business and also to serve other weavers, affording opportunity for […]
For decades, Cuban artist Leandro Gomez Quintero has been creating model vehicles that are both uncannily representational and also replete with whimsy. For Quintero, the humble car or truck is the immediately familiar subject of lightweight sculptures made of paper, cardboard, and other materials. Each is carefully assembled and hand-painted, with attention paid to replicating […]
Traditional Purhepecha jewelry, indigenous to the Purhepecha ethnic group, comes from the Michoacan state of Mexico, and for generations has been treasured for its delicate beauty and distinctive designs. Purhepecha women and girls almost always have at least one pair of silver or gold traditional filigree earrings, proudly worn for social occasions. Traditionally, when a […]
Textile artist Pedro Meza creates a range of items according to ancient Mayan techniques and design influences which span thousands of years. Residing in the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, Meza founded the artist collective Sna Jolobil 1978 to advance and promote traditional means of creating regionally and culturally specific textiles. Sna Jolobil’s members, for the […]
The community of Teotitlán del Valle in Zapotec, Mexico, has long been recognized as a center for gorgeous textiles. In the last several decades, the intricate weavings of the Vásquez family have gained international attention.
Motifs are mostly based on traditional Zapotec design elements from pre-Hispanic buildings, ruins, and other ancient sites. With the arrival of […]
Mexican ceramicist Dr. Isabelle Collins once said, “I love art, but I cannot eat out of my painting. you can showcase it, but you can also use it.” This encapsulates Collins’ drive to make artwork that is as beautiful as it is utilitarian.
Talavera-style pottery is most commonly associated with Mexico, and for good […]
Glady Dosape Chiqueno is a member of the indigenous Ayoreo tribe, which is semi-nomadic and native to the great Chaco Forest which spans areas of Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. For centuries, Ayoreo women have learned weaving traditions from their mothers and grandmothers. Chiqueno, too, preserves an ancient fiber artform based on the teachings of her […]
Third-generation Ecuadorian jeweler Andrea Tello gathers inspiration for her often playfully designed—and structurally phenomenal—jewelry from the patterns found on traditional Andean women’s clothing. Each piece of jewelry is not only aesthetically beautiful, but also representative of the history, culture, and heritage of Ecuador.
Tello lives in Cuenca, Ecuador, where she has made a name for herself […]
Jorge Moscoso, a native of Ecuador, is a master jewelry designer who uses traditional Ecuadorian motifs to make highly refined accessories both in fine silver and gold, embellished with freshwater pearls, and exquisite stones like carnelian, amethyst, and rubies. For much of his jewelry, Moscoso uses gold and silver from mines located in his hometown […]
Across the globe, people wear hats as a cultural signifier, a style statement, or simply as a practical measure to stave off the sun. In Central America, brimmed hats are a traditional part of one’s wardrobe, as exemplified by Ecuadorian artisan Valentin Alarcon. For decades, Alarcon has used locally harvested straw to craft durable and […]
In the mountains of rural Chiapas, 120 Mayan women from five local municipalities weave a world of enchantment. Home to twelve indigenous groups, the Chiapas region of Mexico is renowned for its dynamic and vibrant textile tradition. Here, each village is distinguished by its own woven colors and patterns that together form the region’s panoply […]
The large Nuñez family lives in a small town about an hour and a half from Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, Mexico. Copper and silver work is the main source of livelihood for many of the community’s artisans, and the Nuñez family are masters of this traditional and remarkably distinct type of work.
Inspired by the […]
Innovating Tradition is a multidisciplinary and multicultural network of creators and a non-profit association. Since 2008, they offer a variety of services to the potters of Oaxaca, with the goal of raising the symbolic, cultural and economic value of clay and build sustainable communities.
José García Antonio uses clay from the soil of his village to create life-sized sculptures of Zapotec women, mermaids, and other smaller figures. Known for his large creations, he has won many awards and has been featured in books about master folk artists of Mexico.
After experiencing problems with his sight for 50 years, he is […]
Amalia Gue is the president of Ixbalam’ke, a cooperative of 65 women dedicated to the production of textiles using traditional weaving techniques. They live in the community of Samac de Cobán in Alta Verpaz and are inspired by the landscape and beauty of the region. All the women in her community know how to weave, […]
The city of Cusco, Peru is truly a melting pot. Not only is it home to a wide range of indigenous peoples, it also embraces Spanish design influences from hundreds of years ago. Cusco is home to master artisan Hilda Cachi, who, along with a creative workshop split almost evenly between men and women, creates […]
Non-profit weaving cooperative El Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (CTTC) employs hundreds of highly skilled artisans in the historically and culturally diverse city of Cusco, Peru. CTTC was established in 1996 by Andean weavers and their supporters to ensure the survival of Andean textile traditions and to provide support to weaving communities in areas […]
Josnel was an apprentice to master Serge Jolimeau and is now a metalworker in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, who transforms discarded oil drums into remarkable artwork with his skill and creativity. He describes himself as a “difficult child” who only found purpose once he was taught metalworking. His hammered, chiseled, punched, and incised bowls and platters represent […]
In the Croix des Bouquets neighborhood of Haiti, metal, fire and muscle come together to make lithe mermaid goddesses, mythic lovers and radiant sunbursts. Because these images often come from Haiti’s voudou tradition, which blends West African Yoruba religion and French Catholicism, Croix des Bouquet metalwork has earned an important place in Haiti’s cultural milieu. […]
Since childhood, master wood carver Augustin Cruz Prudencio has been surrounded by art. He recalls watching Day of the Dead processions, Christmas parades, and other community events in his hometown of Oaxaco, Mexico and being inspired by the pageantry and color inherent to traditional festivals of this kind. As a child, Prudencio’s parents—themselves both artists—assigned […]
The hand carved wooden figures that have brought Agustín national recognition come from pine, cedar, or mahogany wood. Agustín has been carving since childhood and has received awards in various state and national folk art competitions for his carved wooden pieces.
He seeks to understand and exploit the natural forms and qualities of the wood. He […]
Working with the distinctive black clay indigenous to San Bartolo Coyotepec, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, Magdalena Pedro Martínez sculpts figures of women dressed in regional costumes. The black clay comes from the mines outside of her town, located in the central valley just south of Oaxaca City.
The ceramic artists of San Bartolo Coyotepec […]
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 […]