Hey, everybody! I had a wonderful weekend. Saturday I went with my friends from the Casa de las Artesanias to plant trees near Lake Zirahuen as part of this state's reforestation efforts. It was wonderful to be able to help contribute to Michoacan's welfare in a more tangible way. Yesterday I went to a festival in a little village called San Jose de Gracia where they make some beautiful, pineapple-shaped pottery. First they had a crafts contest, then a big dinner at the home of the president of the artisan group which included corundas (a type of tamale), churipu (a traditional stew of meat and vegetables), nopales with onion, tomato and cilantro; and beans and homemade corn tortillas. Afterwards we were showered with confetti, and paired up for a dance. The way this worked, several of us partnered up and ran in a long circle through the streets, each time moving a little further up the street while the band played. We'd stop and dance a few minutes, then run further up the street until we ended up in front of the church. Then a group of young men gathered in the patio in front of the church and some young ladies through small ceramic pots filled with confetti toward them and they tried to catch them. If they missed, the pots crashed to the patio spilling confetti everywhere. The locals also walked around handing out small gifts of ceramic pottery for which the town is known. the band played again, we partnered up and run to the small plaza where we ran in circles and danced again, even when the rain fell in torrents. Nothing could diminish the joy of the afternoon, and it was wonderful to be a part of this tradition instead of standing on the sidelines just writing about it. The townspeople eagerly invited me to join in the festivities. I was glad to be the only foreigner there, which meant there was nothing touristy about this at all. It was all very genuine and real. I shot some video of the event, which I've posted above. I finally figured out how to compress it enough to upload.
Hey, everybody! I had a wonderful day yesterday in Santa Clara del Cobre where I visited the store and workshop of Juan Jose Paz. His store is filled with beautiful copper pitchers, plates, bowls covered with images of monarch butterflies and calla lilies, showers of colorful blooms, and figures of lizards and turtles. It was fascinating also to see how the artisans in the workshop behind the store fashion these delightful pieces from scrap copper. Anyone can drop by Jose Paz's shop, Taller El Porton, and see the magic for themselves. Also, Mexico Connect published two stories yesterday that I wrote about Cuanajo and Capula. Just Google Mexico Connect and you'll see the stories and pictures.
My email: WhiteheadTravis@hotmail.com
Updated March 22, 2011.
I moved to Morelia in 2008 and spent eight months working on a book about the artisans of Michoacan. The book, ''Slices of Life - The Artisans of Michoacan" will contain profiles of the artisans in this state west of Mexico City. I've now moved to Brownsville, Texas and have recently found a publisher, Otras Voces Publishing. My purpose is to capture the pulse of some of the artisan communities and introduce them to American readers by profiling the common thread that binds the artisans to the rest of the world through the universal themes of hardship and triumph and by describing the daily lives of the families who live and work here.
Travis M. Whitehead