Mexico is home to many sophisticated crafts. A few of which have a very bold graphic style that would not be out of place in today’s high design culture. Unfortunately the majority of skilled Mexican craftspeople don’t have the tools to work in the modern design industry and remain unknown, undervalued and underpaid.
Huichol artisans from the Sierra Madre in Central Mexico are a good example of extremely talented individuals that get virtually no international exposure. A few years ago I started a workshop introducing Adobe Illustrator to a handful of Huichol teenagers, so that they might learn to apply their good understanding of form and colour to commercial design.
Some of the most fascinating Mexican crafts are made by Huichols, they include embroidery, bead sculptures which you can see clicking HERE
Photo by Karen Elwell Photo by Dynasty x Rebel
…and yarn painting.
Yarn painting is created by laying down coloured thread on a bees wax covered board. Imagine hundreds of concentric brightly coloured lines.
One of my favorite artists is José Benítez, who’s considered the father of a dreamlike surreal graphic style of Huichol yarn painting.
José Benítez learnt the Huichol art of yarn painting in the 1960’s as an apprentice to his Shaman cousin Ramon Medina who was also an artist, creating narratives made with yarn inspired by Huichol mythology. But José Benítez took this art to a new level and began to also record his dreams, peyote induced visions and ceremonies in his work.
Every one of his paintings tells a story.
Today Benitez’s art is exhibited in many museum collections around the world. There is a remarkable 10m x 2m painting of his in the Juárez Tren Ligero station in central Guadalajara.
Aged 71 José Benítez Sánchez passed away on July 1st 2009, but his stunning work lives on through his children Josephina, Maximino and Eliseo who continue yarn painting in his footsteps.