12 Oaxaca Mexico Notable Artists

Written by Sales Vosilo

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Posted on June 04 2022

Handcrafts and folk art in Oaxaca Mexico

Oaxaca handcrafts and folk art is one of Mexico's important regional traditions of its kind, distinguished by both its overall quality and variety. Producing goods for trade has been an important economic activity in the state, especially in the Central Valleys region since the pre-Hispanic era which the area laid on the trade route between central Mexico and Central America.

In the colonial period, the Spanish introduced new raw materials, new techniques and products but the rise of industrially produced products lowered the demand for most handcrafts by the early 20th century. The introduction of highways in the middle part of the century brought tourism to the region and with it a new market for traditional handcrafts.

Today, the state boasts the largest number of working artisans in Mexico, producing a wide range of products that continue to grow and evolve to meet changing tastes in the market.

Oaxaca Mexico


1. Carlomagno Pedro Martínez

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlomagno_Pedro_Mart

Carlomagno Pedro Martínez (born August 17, 1965) is a Mexican artist and artisan in “barro negro” ceramics from San Bartolo Coyotepec, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. He comes from a family of potters in a town noted for the craft. He began molding figures as a child and received artistic training when he was 18. His work has been exhibited in Mexico, the U.S. and Europe and he has been recognized as an artist as well as an artisan. Today, he is also the director of the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular de Oaxaca (MEAPO) in his hometown. In 2014, Martínez was awarded Mexico's National Prize for Arts and Sciences

2. Doña Rosa

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dona_Rosa

Doña Rosa, full name Rosa Real Mateo de Nieto, was a Mexican ceramics artisan from San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. She is noted for inventing a technique to make the local pottery type, barro negro, black and shiny after firing. This created new markets for the ceramics with collectors and tourists.

3. Aguilar family

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aguilar_family_(Oaxacan_potters)

The Aguilar family of Ocotlán de Morelos are from a rural town in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. This town produced only utilitarian items until Isaura Alcantara Diaz began creating decorative figures with her husband Jesus Aguila Revilla. The couple taught their five daughters who continued innovating their own styles and then teaching the two generations after them. Two of the sisters, Guilliermina and Irene have been named “grand masters” by the Fomento Cultural Banamex, for their figures and sets of figures related to the life and traditions of Oaxaca, as well as Mexican icons such as Frida Kahlo and the Virgin of Guadalupe. The younger generations have made their own adaptations with some attaining their own recognition such as Lorenzo Demetrio García Aguilar and Jose Francisco Garcia Vazquez.

4. Blanco family

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanco_family_(Oaxacan_potters)

The Blanco family of Santa María Atzompa, Oaxaca, Mexico is noted for their ceramic production, especially decorative pieces. Their fame began with Teodora Blanco, who as a young child added decorative elements to the more utilitarian wares made by her parents. Eventually her work became noted by a foreigner who not only bought her entire production, also encouraged her to create new forms, leading to mostly human figures called “muñecas” (lit. dolls). Her form of decoration, called “pastillaje,” was also an innovation for the area’s pottery and consists of small pieces of clay added onto the main surfaces, often covering much of the area. Teodora taught her children and although she intended that only the oldest daughter carry on her work, today three generations of the family continues making mostly decorative pottery, mostly following her work. These include Irma García Blanco, who have been recognized by the Fomento Cultural Banamex and Fernando Félix Pegüero García, who has won prizes from the Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art in New York and Premio Nacional de Cerámica in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco.

5. José García Antonio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jose_Garcia_Antonio

José García Antonio (born August 10, 1947) is a Mexican potter from San Antonio Castillo Velasco in the municipality of Ocotlán, Oaxaca, a town noted for its handcrafts. He still has is house and workshop there, located beyond the church behind a tall gate that hides what is inside. At the age of seven, he began making horses and giraffes from clay without any teacher to guide him, impressing others with his talent. His first commercial pieces were incense burners for Day of the Dead, adorning them with figures related to this holiday. His work has since become well known and was recognized as a “grand master” by the Fomento Cultural Banamex in 2001.

6. Fortunato Hernández Bazán

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortunato_Hernandez_Bazan

Fortunato Hernández Bazán is a Mexican artisan from San Pedro Cajonos, Oaxaca in southern Mexico, who specializes in items made from ixtle fiber. He has been recognized as a “grand master” by the Fomento Cultural Banamex for his work. Ixtle is obtained from the thick hard leaves of the maguey plant, which the artisan uses the fiber to make hammocks, nets, plant hangers, huaraches, bags and belts. He also works with a much finer maguey fiber called “pita,” which is obtained from the heart of the plant.

7. Manuel Jiménez Ramírez

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_Jimenez_Ramirez

Manuel Jiménez Ramírez (June 9, 1919 – March 4, 2005) was a Mexican carver, sculptor and painter credited as the originator of the Oaxacan version of “alebrijes,” animal creatures carved in wood and painted in strong contrasting colors with intricate designs. He was a charismatic and philosophical person, who believed he was the reincarnation of an artist. He began making animal figures of clay when he was a child but changed to wood carving later, creating human figures, nativity scenes, masks and more as well as the alebrijes. He work can be found in public and private collections in various parts of the world, especially in the United States.

Oaxaca Mexico

8. Agustín Cruz Tinoco

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agustin_Cruz_Tinoco

Agustín Cruz Tinoco is an artisan from San Agustín de las Juntas, Oaxaca, Mexico noted for his wood carvings. His work has been recognized both in Mexico and abroad. Cruz Tinoco learned to carve as a child from his father, also a noted artisan, in his hometown of San Juan Otzolotepec in the Sierra Mixe region of Oaxaca, where his family grew coffee and corn. When he was older, he moved to San Agustín de las Juntas, a town near the Oaxacan state capital, and sent for his wife, Cleotilde Prudencio Martínez, and four children a year later. Initially he worked in construction to support his family, carving at night, finding more of a market for his works there than he had in his hometown, despite the fact that San Agustín de las Juntas is not a town noted for wood crafts.

9. Apolinar Aguilar Velasco

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apolinar_Aguilar_Velasco

Apolinar Aguilar Velasco is a traditional blacksmith who lives and works in the southern Mexican town of Ocotlán de Morelos, Oaxaca. Although there is a tradition of making blades in the town, the Aguilar workshop is the only one that still makes all pieces by hand, with no industrialization. The work of this craftsman, and that of his brother, Angel, have been used in movies. The workshop exports directly to buyers such as theaters, martial arts enthusiasts and collectors in both Mexico and the United States.

10. Josefina Aguilar

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josefina_Aguilar

Josefina Aguilar (born 1945) is a Mexican folk artist from Ocotlán de Morelos, Oaxaca. A member of the Aguilar family, she is best known for her small clay figurines called muñecas (dolls), an artform she learned from her mother. Aguilar uses red clay to create depictions of everyday village activities, religious and folkloric scenes, famous figures, and special Day of the Dead statues. Collectors of her work include Nelson Rockefeller, who discovered her work on a trip to Oaxaca in 1975, as well as repeat visitors to Oaxaca who come to see her latest work. Aguilar says each figurine she makes is unique. She became blind in 2014 and now uses touch to create her art. One of her major collectors quoted her as saying "It's not the eyes. It's the hand and the brain."

11. Arnulfo Mendoza

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnulfo_Mendoza

Arnulfo Mendoza Ruiz (August 17, 1954 – March 7, 2014) was an artist and weaver, who exhibited his work both in Mexico and abroad. Born in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, a well-known center for traditional Zapotec weaving, he became one of its best-known artisans, recognized as a “grandmaster” by the Fundación Cultural Bancomer. As director of La Mano Mágica gallery and with his former wife Mary Jane Gagnier, he also worked to promote Oaxacan folk art and handicrafts.

12. Teodora Blanco Núñez

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teodora_Blanco_Nunez

Teodora Blanco Núñez (b. February 28, 1928 - d December 23, 1980) was an artisan in Santa María Atzompa, Oaxaca, Mexico who created her own style of decorative ceramics that influence the potters of her generation and those after in the region. The traditional ceramic of Atzompa has a green glaze, but that of Blanco Núñez is of natural beige and/or a reddish color from the clay. Instead, her work is distinguished by the creation of female and fantasy figures, profusely decorated with finely shaped bits of clay that are placed over the main body. It has since been imitated and reinterpreted by others in the region including various members of her own family, some of whom still work in the family compound that she lived and worked in.

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