A large scale exhibition of my work is scheduled for Sept 2010 at MACLA, Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latinoamericana, in San Jose during the Zero1 Biennial. MACLA has allowed me to use the exhibition to showcase (and kickstart) collaborative works with artisans—and for the first time in my art career, allow me to become a catalyst for social change through the creation of craft.
The Chiapas Project, shown below, will serve as Phase 1 of a longer-planned relationship with artisans worldwide, helping to provide dignified wages and setting up new modes of sustaining traditions—the creation of Artists Helping Artisans (AHA!).

For more information on the Chiapas Project and the creation of AHA! please see bottom "Project Info" section.

Tanya Aguiñiga

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


San Juan de Chamula is a small town just outside of San Cristobal. It is in the highlands and it and it’s surrounding communities hold the largest indigenous population in North America. Their traditional outfit is best known for the really fuzzy black wool that they use to make skirts for women and vests for men. We will try and put photos up of the outfits soon.
All of the women wear thick, backstrap made, black wrapped skirts, thick woven colorful belts and silk shirts with heavy small embroidery around the collar.
Chamula holds a large outdoor market for artisan wares that are sold everyday. It also holds the most beautiful church I have ever visited anywhere in the world. You are not allowed to take pictures inside churches in indigenous towns (nor are you allowed to take pictures of people) so bear with me on the descriptions…The inside of the church is breathtaking and completely moving beyond words. The floor is covered in pine needles and the warmth of thousands of candles fills the entire church—so you are immediately filled with warmth and the scent of pine. The church is all lined with glass cases that contain various saints that are adorned with traditional outfits and are often covered in colorful ribbons and offerings. There are tables in front of all of the saints that are filled with candles of all sizes. Draped along the walls and ceiling are garlands of floral fabric and fresh fruits. Dotted along the middle of the church are people placing hundreds of colorful slim and tall candles in patterns and doing “cleansing” or shamanistic rituals. Some even had live chickens in the church with them. There are no mass services in this church, it is simply a place for people to come and pray and leave offerings. It is completely a mixture of Catholisism and indigenous religious practices. It is a truly unique and immensely moving sight. A visit to Chamula is worth it just to see this unique church.

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