Saturday, May 28, 2011


Huipils are one of the most amazing works of functional art that I have ever laid eyes upon. The embroidery work is divine, the color combinations are bold and the tradition of wearing them runs deep. Sadly, this tradition of wearing huipils is slowly disappearing.
Huipils are common sighting thruout Latin America. My favorite regional designs come from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the design is often referred to as Tehuana. My future mother-in-law can be found wearing this pattern work daily.

She is a descendant of the Mixe indigenous culture and still speaks in one of the traditional dialects. Here -you can see how Huipils are used as an all purpose outfit. The people in this region, by "Western standards" are considered "poor farmers." I beg to differ. Look at their daily wear! Huipils are expensive-even at a local level. I often preach to everyone at the farm that they are amongst the wealthiest in the world. They own thousands of fertile hectares along with land water rights. They eat organic food daily, & range free meats weekly. No one in the family owes a single penny to the banks.

If you compare a balance sheet of one of these "poor farmers" to a typical American family whose sheet is usually "in the red" you also might start looking at them differently. I am proud of my fiance's family roots. I never visit them with pity. I visit with a different perception of wealth. I love going to the coffee farm! It's rich in food, tradition and life!

Where was I...oh yeah..HUIPILS! Although I own many huipils, I find myself only wearing them for special occasions because I value the pieces I have. Most have been gifted to me as hand me downs (imagine that one)!

Huipils are very expensive to own. I could never imagine wearing my treasures while cutting coffee or planting crops. Hanging from a coffee branch in my treasured best isn't my style. My farm clothes are from Goodwill!! My mother-in-law wears a different huipil EVERY day. In my opinion, that's wealth! What do you think? Interesting isn't it?

Back to HUIPILS!

I FINALLY finished a painting yesterday. "Huipil Girl" You can see how the embroidery work combined with a photograph that I took at the farm brought this piece to fruition.I really loved the rich colors that I was able to draw from the embroidered textile. Looking forward to creating more huipil inspired pieces!

As I sit here writing, we are starting to plan a trip back to the farm. We recently planted more coffee crops and I planted hundred of plants and rare exotics. We are planning to visit family and bring back some plants to the city now that they have taken root. I am looking forward to capturing more inspiration for more creations. Life at the farm is another world. It's a's hard work...

1 comment:

  1. Hello Sandra,

    I too Love huipiles AND I am also a painter. My son and I went to Mexico for the first time this year for a dear friend's wedding and fell in love with the landscape and the rich cultural tapestry of many traditions. Unfortunately, we did not get out to the Isthmus or to any good textile markets. When we returned, I looked online for a source through which I could purchase some traditional Oaxacan embroidery but found that most of the businesses were shops reselling in the US. As an artist, I feel strongly about supporting the craftspeople directly, with the entire purchase price going to them and not someone else profiting from their amazing work. I would very much like to connect with some textile artisans so that each time I finish and deliver a painting, I can treat myself to a new huipil. Perhaps you can help me find someone through your travels or perhaps your mother in law know's of someone. I hope you do not mind my asking. I took the liberty since we seem to share a love and respect for the people of Oaxaca. By the way, how is your research going regarding Frida's wardrobe? I ordered the book, Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress after our trip and have read it over and over. Our visit to the Casa Azul was powerfully magical for me. I would like to know more about your project. Feel free to send a note any time.