March 2015 - August 2015

A delirium of color: Oaxaca in the 1960s

Museo Textil de Oaxaca

During the first half of the 20th century, most communities in Mexico used cotton threads dyed with indigo (blue) and alizarine (or some other synthetic red) to decorate their weavings and embroideries. Many natural dyes had already been abandoned, so the color palette at their disposal was limited. But then everything changed around mid-century: industrial skeins of mercerized cotton, dyed in a great assortment of shades, began to reach the most remote communities. At the same time, various synthetic dyestuffs became popular to color wool in loud hues. Indigenous weavers and embroiderers responded enthusiastically to the new materials, and the result was a chromatic revolution in the realm of textiles.

Servilleta (cloth for tortillas), Unknown, circa 1960, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Paño (headcloth), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipiles and other garments made in Oaxaca between 1960 and 1970 exemplify that trend. Webs where red and blue had formerly prevailed on a white background of raw cotton were suddenly transformed when pinks, greens, purples, magentas and oranges burst into the scene in ever more saturated contrasts. Techniques that became big fads in the large cities during those years, like tie-dyed hippie T-shirts, had no great echo in our region, but the polychrome craze of psychedelic graphic art spread through all the fairs and markets, leaving a deep impression on an entire generation of textile artists.
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Autoría desconocida, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Mantel (tablecloth), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Stimulated by the new availability of multi-colored threads, designs grew larger and more complex. Weaving traditions that had been characterized by narrow, widely spaced stripes of decoration, built out of simple geometric elements, mutated rapidly. The white backgrounds of former times shrank dramatically, and fields of color expanded to cover whole huipiles with vibrant visual rhythms. Though some communities saw their last weavers pass away during those years, in many instances ethnic clothing gained visibility with great assertiveness.
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1950s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Enredo (wrap-around skirt), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
The MTO devotes this exhibit to that period. We have chosen a group of garments made for community use, not intended for tourism, which witness the will to experiment that pervaded the zeitgeist twenty years after World War II. Emblematic figures and inscriptions of urban visual culture, already dominated by the mass media, made their entry at the time, wedged between ancient motifs, while the dazzling colors we see on contemporaneous blouses and huipiles seem to tune in with the experiences young people were having with entheogens, trying the sacred plants and mushrooms of Oaxaca. Far from asserting naively that the shamanic traditions of the first nations are reflected in the textile styles that took shape during the sixties, our show aims to suggest that indigenous communities were not indifferent to the countercultural movement which blossomed from Avándaro to Woodstock, and facilitated the social openness we enjoy today.
Enredo (wrap-around skirt), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Enredo (wrap-around skirt), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Enredo (wrap-around skirt), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Enredo (wrap-around skirt), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Enredo (wrap-around skirt), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Paño (headcloth), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Huipil (tunic for women), Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Blouse, Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Blouse, Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Blouse, Autoría desconocida, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Blouse, Unknown, 1940s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Blouse, Unknown, 1960s, From the collection of: Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Credits: Story

Credits of the exhibit shown at the Textile Museum of Oaxaca (March – August, 2015):

Curation, texts, and research: Alejandro de Ávila
Museography: Hector Meneses
Conservation and restoration: Mariana Almaraz and Laura Santiago
Installation: Mariana Almaraz, Laura Santiago, Eva Romero, Marco Aguilera, Julián Guzmán, Manuel Matías, Víctor Robles

_________________

Collections: Eva Romero and Marco Aguilera
Graphic design: Abraham Hernández
Administration and accounting: Sara Cué, Verónica Luna
Educational services: Eric Chávez, Adriana Sabino, Lorena De la Piedra
Communication: Salvador Maldonado
Store: Soledad Mendoza
Maintenance: Consuelo Cuevas, Julián Guzmán, Manuel Matías, Víctor Robles
Photography: Fidel Ugarte

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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