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Open House Features Visiting Huichol Artists


By Susan Page

The show-stopping beaded jewelry created by skilled Huichol artists will be available at the Galeria Atotonilco Open House this weekend only. The artists will also be exhibiting gorgeous greeting cards and ornaments in which themes from yarn paintings are reproduced and highlighted. The entire gallery will be open both Saturday and Sunday, October 28 and 29 from noon to 5pm with no appointment necessary. Directions to the gallery are in the gallery’s ad in this issue.

Susana Valadez is making a rare appearance in San Miguel and will be present at the Open House both days. She is a remarkable anthropologist who came to Mexico to “study” the Huichol culture in the late ’70s. She saw that many of the families were migrating out of their isolated sacred homeland to work in tobacco fields on the coast where they were being exploited and exposed to dangerous pesticides. Susana has a photograph of a young boy drinking water out of a pesticide container that says, in English, “Discard this container after use.” She established a center where the dislocated Huichols could obtain nutritious meals, participate in sacred ceremonies, and obtain medical help that combined Western medicine with shamanic healing. Above all, she provided the Huichols with yarn and beads and established markets for their artwork, successfully transitioning many families from farm work to making their living as artists.

Now, thirty-seven years later, the center, called the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts, has expanded to include additional services and many more families. The sale of the beaded jewelry created by Huichol Center artists sustains the center and the many families who create the art. Because designers influence the colors and patterns, the jewelry is unique and especially stunning. It has appeared on the cover of Vogue Magazine and in high-end stores in New York.

Susana will also be presenting a slide show about her work with the Huichols on Thursday, October 26, at 2pm at the Santa Ana Theater in the Biblioteca. Admission is 150 pesos.


Day of the Dead

The gallery Open House will also feature Day of the Dead figures from many of the gallery artists. Day of the Dead has its origins in the human sacrifices of the Aztecs, who decorated their temples with walls of skulls to please their gods. When Catholicism arrived with the Spanish, indigenous Mexicans blended their own traditions with the new religion, placing “idols behind altars.” They believe it is critically important to keep the memory of loved ones alive by creating altars that honor them. There are three deaths, they believe: the first death occurs when you stop breathing and physically die. The second death occurs when you are buried or cremated. And the third death occurs when you are no longer remembered by any living person, when no one living remembers that you existed. That is why the Day of the Dead altars are so important. By remembering and honoring your loved ones, you prevent that third death.


Art Opening

Galeria Atotonilco Features Exclusive Huichol Jewelry and Art:

This Weekend Only: Day of the Dead Art from all over Mexico

Sat and Sun, Oct 28 and 29, 12–5pm

Directions to the gallery in our ad in this issue.


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