Craftsmanship is in Fashion

Discover Contemporary Argentinian Craftmanship

By Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández

Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández

Topus with punched ornament (20th century) by Crafted by Jorge MasonOriginal Source:

Exhibiting the craftmanship of the interior of the country in a big city

This virtual exhibition includes objects belonging to the Craft Promotion Program (CEPAR), created to promote craft production in all provinces of Argentina by means of its marketing and exhibition and carried out by the museum between 1980 and 1989.

Band with red stripes (20th century)Original Source:

The aim of the programme was to encourage the production and knowledge of craftsmanship from the provinces all around the country.

Red double band with yellow flowers (20th century) by Crafted by Imelda PonceOriginal Source:

To that purpose, several technicians from our museum, experts in craft production, travelled yearly to purchase from different local fairs and markets.

Broad band with purple motif (20th century) by Unknown artisanOriginal Source:

Light-brown bag with flap (20th century) by Unknown artisanOriginal Source:

These were offered at a good cost in our museum and what was collected from these sales, was invested in new purchases for the museum.

Bag with red and brown pattern (20th century) by Unknown artisanOriginal Source:

In this way, many quality pieces were traded and showed to become better known in Buenos Aires.

Bag in shades of brown, Unknown artisan, 20th century, Original Source:
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Besides, authentic craft certificates were issued, and the public was able to see the craftsmen's works.

Woman's Hat (20th century) by Eloisa RodriguezOriginal Source:

Many public talks and courses were held; the work included also investigations, audiovisual material, documentaries and brochures production.

Headband with silver beads, Unknown artisan, 20th century, Original Source:
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Even though we changed the program name from CEPAR to CEMPAR, the spirit of the original one continued until 1955, when it was absorbed together with other managements of the museum.

Wide belt with glass beads, Unknown artisan, 20th century, Original Source:
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Octagonal handbag (20th century) by Rubén Aníbal RodriguezMuseo de Arte Popular José Hernández

The Urban Craft and the José Hernández Folk Art Museum

The urban craft also known as contemporary or "neo-crafstmanship" is quite different from the traditional one (made from ethnography and folkloric extractions), because it introduces a vast variety of original techniques and proceedings together with diverse materials. Its designs come from their authors' artistic inspiration.This kind of work mixes technology while using industrial, recyclables and formal material inspired in fashion which contributed to their transformation. These are constantly fighting against the global culture. Producers use them as an alternative way of getting into the market and offer the public unique pieces which are very different from industrialized products. For most of them, it is a lifestyle. 

Red scarf (July 2004) by Vanina G. Bujalter RuizOriginal Source:

Usually, craftsmen use materials such as wood, metal, leather, wool, fleece, vegetable fibres, clay, glass, stone among others. Recently they have incorporated elements such as seeds, parsecs, plastic and porcelain. Nowadays one of the main features we can see is the mixture between the materials and the different techniques used to make the piece. Nevertheless, we can find traditional textiles techniques alongside with metal or jewellery or a mixture of glass and wood on the same piece.

In 2003 the Program of Urban Craft was created by the museum and, together with the Cultural and Historical Heritage Conservation Committee –CCPHC according its initials in Spanish– form a collection of urban craft and in this way organize Buenos Aires Urban Craft Biennial. The first one was in 2005, and it was repeated in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The jury at the competition, who are constantly changed, are perfectly able to award the Acquisitions and Mentions in every category. The first ones in being awarded, became part of the museum collection permanently. The categories are pottery, leather, wood, metal, textile, glass and others items and the CCPHC also donate and contribute with our collection.

Brown scarf with ribbons (20th century) by Vanina G. Bujalter RuizOriginal Source:

The collection of urban craftworks holds works that have been acquired by the Cultural and Historical Heritage Conservation Committee from Buenos Aires city in 2004, to the craftswoman Vanina Bujalter.
Thus, the permanent collection of urban crafts was built up at José Hernández Folk Art Museum.

Scarf and handbag set (April 2005) by Vanina G. Bujalter RuizOriginal Source:

These pieces have a special meaning for me; they meant a challenged in order to refine my technique. What I do is to mix the classic fabric with that type of handmade loom, then I stop the warp and do a gobelin in the middle of the fabric, covering the warp.
From a very careful task on design, choice of materials and colour, I think I have succeeded in translating my original idea: to reflect the value of the craft in a craft work.

Vanina Bujalter (Craftswoman)

Red belt by Vanina G. Bujalter RuizMuseo de Arte Popular José Hernández

This piece was made especially for the Biennial. Its design and production arise from my work on the high loom techniques and on-going development of applied textile art. The experimentation with new materials together with the use of the classics, are pillars for creating my new pieces.

Vanina Bujalter (Craftswoman)

Woman's belt made of perlé thread (2008) by Valeria LajaraMuseo de Arte Popular José Hernández

I chose this piece for the Biennial because for me it is a kind of "synthesis" that represents both satisfaction, the emptiness of something that ends and the enthusiasm and the uncertainty of something new is starting.
For me, being a craftsman is the result of a search, a need, an encounter... In my case, an election since I did not follow with my family’s trade. It is also a great responsibility to collaborate in the task of preservation and diffusion of pre-Hispanic techniques.

Valeria Lajara (Craftswoman)

Scarf and tie set by Mario Esteban VucetichMuseo de Arte Popular José Hernández

I chose this piece for the Biennial because I think it is a set that represents the style, the good taste and certain sophistication of Buenos Aires city. This all in addition to the conjunction of materials so noble as natural silk -material coveted by man from ancient times - llama spun - noble fiber that represents our American culture. In short, what is our city, a sum of cultures (...)
They are made in a four-frame loom combining different types of knitting and yarn thickness to achieve the desired texture and visual effect. I dyed the silk and the llama wool has been spun for more fineness.

Mario Esteban Vucetich (Craftsman)

Vest in warm colours (20th century) by Silvia RoldánOriginal Source:

When I say 'Ida' – Coming- I always imagine that I am moving forward, I am looking to the future. On the other hand, when I say 'Vuelta' – Going - I am referring back to the past. But the former can suggest us something that went away. Something lost. Somebody has gone. In addition, ‘Vuelta’ can be something that I have recovered, that enriches me. All these concepts underlie recycling, and both concepts are two sides of the objects around us. For textile craftsmen, these are the essential movements of the fabric. With this piece, I 'took a break’ to search for other techniques, other joints, other views, coming from my current production. This piece contains in itself different polarities. It seems to be rigid, but when we touch it, it is completely the opposite.

Silvia Roldán (Craftswoman)

Pyramid-shaped handbag (2009) by Rubén Aníbal RodriguezOriginal Source:

This bag is part of a neatly geometric and modern line of work, which in turn, keeps traditional reminiscences. I tried to combine harmoniously the two streams that made it. To create it, I used bovine rawhide and goats' strings. In the center of the bag, I placed an Inca weaving in two colours woven with an awl where the four points of the fabric coincide with the angles of the pyramid.

Rubén Aníbal Rodríguez (Craftsman)

Handbag with flaps (20th century) by Rodolfo GrandiOriginal Source:

This is one of my favourite bags, because of its shape; I think that the adornment is complete. Making a bag like this takes a lot of time because it is all made freehand.
In craftsmanship the man and the material go hand in hand and that must not be lost. It means a licit alternative that has to be kept and pushed ahead.

Rodolfo Grandi (Craftsman)

Ginkgo set (May 2005) by Alicia LealOriginal Source:

Design inspired by the ginkgo tree leaf.
I have been working on the design of the ginkgo leaf for more than 15 years... Ginkgo is a prehistoric tree, because it is the oldest on earth, a living fossil. It comes from the Middle East, but it adapted very well to Buenos Aires environment; the legend says that it is a tree that stops the fire, these were things that moved me... and it is beautiful.
Alicia Leal (Craftswoman)

Brooch in form of a dragonfly (2004) by Miguel Angel LópezOriginal Source:

The José Hernández Folk Art Museum has been gathering urban crafts since 2004 through donations and purchases. Not only does it preserve, investigate and inform about the traditional craftsmanship, but also the institution itself has been a reference for almost 15 years with regard to the contemporary craft field. At present, more than 10,000 objects are registered.
Each craft is unique as it was handmade, unrepeatable in its design and format, it carries a local, regional and individual identity linked to the emotions, thoughts and inspiration of the craftsperson who preceded us and who will transcend us.

Credits: Story

Director of the José Hernández Folk Art Museum: Felicitas Luna.

Production, realization, photos: Analía Piombino

Communication and Promotion of Craftmanship: Paola Fritz.

Script: Mirta Bialogorski y Juliana Lozada.

Translation: Ana Clara Fridman.

Models: Morena Magallanes, Fernando Onega and Jorgelina De Biase Echeverría.

Make-up: Lorena Rubinsztain.

Special thanks:

Documentation: Abel Carrizo.

Conservation: Rubén Romero.

Research: Ximena Elizabe.

Translation: Gisela Piombino.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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