FOFA Alums at the Bowers Museum,
Santa Ana, CA
FOFA is fortunate in its friends. Steve Thompson, California collector and gallerista, has made a splendid connection for young Oaxacan folk artists: at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA. During the first week in February he collaborated with the Bowers to mount and exhibit Oaxacan folk art and present educational programs and artistic demonstrations. This week-long cavalcade of events conceived by Steve was entitled "Traditional Art in a Modern World: The Evolution of Folk Art in Oaxaca."
At both the main campus and the Kidseum, just a few blocks away, FOFA contest alums and other well-known popular artists and their children shared their cultural experiences and artistic techniques.
Fernando Peguero demonstrating his ceramic technique at the Kidseum
At the Kidseum, three young artists gave hour-long Saturday workshops. Fernando Peguero -- two-time winner of FOFA's young artists' in ceramics -- fresh from a series of well-received talks and demonstrations at New York schools, was excited to meet and work with California kids. All week long, in two-hour slots, he offered workshops in clay sculpting. As he worked, his inspiration story emerged: a young artist, still in his early 20's, from a family of folk artists who are his first teachers, can win national level awards.
Noemi demonstrating ceramic technique at the Kidseum
Noemi and her mother Magdalena Pedro demonstrating ceramic techniques at the Bowers
Joining Fernando were two teenagers from celebrated Oaxacan folk artist families: Noemí, daughter of famed Magdalena Pedro Martínez -- known for her sublime black ceramic sculptures of women in regional costume - and Jonatan, son of Julia Fuentes - who paints woodcarvings created by her distinguished carving family in San Martín Tilcajete. All three spoke about working closely with their families on a daily basis and the importance of the family in Mexico. Jonatan painted on sanded copal woodcarvings donated by Steve; and Noemí sculpted mythological clay figures while encouraging children in the audience to use their own imaginations.
Jonatan teaching children his family's carving and decorative painting techniques
Jonatan with his mother Julia Fuentes and a collector
Fernando, Julia and Jonatan also participated in Kidseum's daily after school program. About 50 children, many low income and at-risk, spent two hours with them every day for a week. Split into two groups, they alternated between doing homework and working with the visiting artists.
Yesenia Salgado demonstrating her family's silver filigree techniques
On the main Bowers Campus, Fernando and four other Oaxacan folk artists gave demonstrations for adults. Yesenia Salgado -- two-time FOFA honorable mention for her distinctive silver jewelry - shared her family's signature silver filigree techniques. Magdalena Pedro Martínez and Julia Fuentes presented their clay sculpting and decorative painting of woodcarving techniques, respectively. Porfirio Gutiérrez - an outstanding woolen rug weaver from Teotitlán del Valle -- gave a cochineal natural dye demonstration and led a talk about the history of weaving in his pueblo and aspects of natural dye techniques: their sources, that today only about 5% of the families truly use natural dyes on a consistent basis, the ecological impact of commercial dyes on his village, and how these traditions can be preserved for future generations. On another day he offered an intensive cochineal demonstration, and wove on his large loom each day.
Porfirio Gutiérrez demonstrating his rug weaving technique
From our New York "headquarters," we send warm thanks to Steve for extending FOFA's network to Santa Ana; and congratulations to FOFA alums Fernando and Yesenia and up and coming artists Naomi and Jonatan!