Latin American Fibers: Fall 2013 Surface Design Journal

COVER CREDIT: Natividad Amador "Untitled" Detail, traditional hook-tambour embroidery on fabric, 27.6" x 20.9", 2010. Drawing by Alejandro Santiago. Featured in the 2011 Museo Textil de Oaxaca exhibition "Pinthila Bordados de Natividad Amador en relacion a otros artistas." Shown courtesy of MTO, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo: Jaime Ruiz Martinez.

A potent trend throughout Latin America is the transformation of traditional textile techniques into contemporary art forms, beautifully illustrated by the stitched detail on our cover. Mexican artist Natividad Amador achieves this stunning surface design with hook- tambour embroidery commonly used to embellish women’s blouses. The finished piece is Amador’s reinterpretation of a painting by her mentor Alejandro Santiago.

I hope you enjoy this initial overview of Latin American textile artists and their stories. We look forward to featuring many more in future issues of the Journal!

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Find related links to this issue’s profiles and features below. 

Betsabeé Romero "Car/Ayate" (at US-Mexico border) Cloth-covered auto painted with roses 169.3" x 82.7" x 55.1",1997. "InSite Biennial," Tijuana, Mexico. Daros Collection, Switzerland.Velocity and Memory: Betsabeé Romero

By Pamela Scheinman

On a conceptual level, Romero’s decorated cars oppose speed and macho NASCAR culture. They are feminized and given stories, a history. They also are dressed up, like the paper doll clothes she invented in sets as a child. For velocity, she substitutes memory. Memory, like the fabrication of textiles, is a slow accumulative process. Her own process is equally generative. 

Betsabeé Romero‘s next solo exhibition will be at Juan Ruiz Gallery in Miami, Florida November 26, 2013–January 31, 2014 during the Miami Art Fairs.

Chiachio & Giannone “Promesas” Cotton threads, jewelry effect threads, rayon and metal ex votos, hand embroidery on fabric, 46.1" x 44.5", 2011. Photo: Daniel Kiblisky.Dynamic Latin American Duos

by Vic De La Rosa and Kate Nartker

The rosters of recent international biennials and art fairs worldwide show an increased number of collaborative groups. Has there been a rise in the acceptance and recognition of multiple authors in the art world or has there simply been a rise in the number of Gen Y and Millennial artists for whom working in this egalitarian manner is the norm? In either case, there has been a paradigm shift in how collaborative versus solitary art making is viewed today.

The Campana Brothers 

Guerra de la Paz 

Chiachio & Giannone

Detail of a naturally-dyed, handpicked design, woven on a backstrap loom from Chinchero, Peru, 2009. Photo: Marilyn Murphy.Transforming Textile Traditions in Peru

By Marilyn Murphy
“I have learned that each and every piece of cloth embodies the spirit, skill, and personal history of an individual weaver. Weaving is a living art, an expression of culture, geography, and history. It ties together with an endless thread of emotional life of my people.”—Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, Founder and Director of The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco

The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC)

To purchase CTTC products, visit

To attend the Tinkuy de Tejedores conference November 12-15, 2013 in Cusco, Peru, and become involved with CTTC, visit

Gego working on “Reticularea (Ambientacion)” (stainless steel wire, netted, dimensions variable) at the Center for Interamerican Relations Art Gallery, New York, in 1969. Photo: Ana Mari?a Castillo. ©Fundacion? Gego. Gego: A Textile in Three Dimensions

By Warren Seelig

Nearly 20 years after her death, an artist named Gego has emerged as possibly the most important modern artist whose innovation was given little recognition while she was alive. The European émigré to Latin America was an anomaly in her time, and even today there is no clear definition of what to call her work. Is it sculpture? Is it drawing? Some have referred to it as kinetic art and others as optical. Or could it be understood as an open weave textile in three dimensions?

Gego: Line as Object will be on display at Hamburger Kunsthalle Museum in Hamburg, Germany (November 29, 2013–March 2, 2014).

Fundacion Gego (Gego Foundation), Caracas, Venezuela

ABOVE: A butterfly basket designed by the women of Xeabaj, Guatemala, after Michele Hament’s 2010 basketry workshop. BELOW: Michele Hament’s basketry workshop in El Adelanto, Guatemala, 2006.Art and Opportunity in Guatemala

By Deborah Chandler

Since 1989, Mayan Hands [fair trade organization] has helped hundreds of women working in cooperative groups with “a hand up instead of a handout” by providing work, and therefore income, on a steady and fair trade basis.

Mayan Hands

Cultural Cloth 

Sharon Costello

Dee Dee Triplett

Michele Hament

Olga Reiche 

Catharine Ellis 

Donna Brown

Mary Anne Wise

Natividad Amador "Untitled" Traditional hook-tambour embroidery on fabric, 33.9" x 25.6", 2010. Drawing by Arnulfo Mendoza. Featured in the 2011 Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Mexico, exhibition "Pinthila Bordados de Natividad Amador en relacio?n a otros artistas." Photo: Jaime Rui?z Marti?nez.Interview:
Héctor Meneses Lozano
Director, Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Mexico

 with Journal Editor Marci Rae McDade

The textile traditions of Oaxaca, Mexico, have been admired for centuries. The Museo Textil de Oaxaca (MTO) opened its doors five years ago to add cultural context and connectivity to these treasures. Alongside pieces from a grow- ing collection of nearly 6,000 objects, the Museum presents enriching educational programs, artisan markets, and thought- provoking contemporary exhibitions by both regional and international artists. MTO Director Héctor Manuel Meneses Lozano gives us the grand tour in a recent e-interview.

Museo Textil de Oaxaca (MTO) Oaxaca, Mexico 

Christina Colichon “Dibujos sobre pared” (from the series “Drawings on a wall”) Detail, cotton and enameled copper weavings, dimensions variable, 2012. Photo: Daniel Benaim.Latin American Textile Art . . . in process

By Paulina Ortiz
How can Latin America contribute textile creativity and communicate the potential for furthering its interconnectivity, development and visibility on the global artistic scene?

There is no easy answer to this question if we take Latin America as a whole, with all the different ethnic groups, nationalities, and preferences coexisting among our nations. 

Argentine Center for Textile Art (CAAT)

Chile Crea Textil (CCT) 

European Textile Network (ETN) 

Ibero-American Textile Network (Redtextilia) 

World Textile Art Organization (WTA) 


Michael Beutler "Alternative Carpet" Mixed media, textiles, woven, 2009. Shown at Franco Soffiantino Gallery, Turin, Italy, at Art Basel Miami Beach, 2009. Photo: Joanne Mattera.The Miami Art Fairs: Fiber, Fiber Everywhere

By Joanne Mattera

Each year, as the number of international exhibition venues in Miami, Florida, has increased (in 2012, there were some 20 fairs), the amount of fiber on exhibition has increased as well. The 2013 Miami art fairs will take place December 3–8, 2013 with most openings on Wednesday or Thursday nights. Art Basel Miami BeachAqua Art Art MiamiNADADesign MiamiUntitledContextMiami Project, and Pulse are just a few worth Googling!

Joanne Mattera artist, Eighth International Encaustic Conference 2014

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