Elaine Duncan

Mexico Retreat and Exhibition

“Sin maiz no hay pais” Without corn there is no country.

Artist:  Jackie Wollenberg

Artist: Jackie Wollenberg

On February 4, 2009 our exhibition “Sin maiz no hay pais” or Sin maiz no hay tapiz (without corn there is no tapestry) opened at the Naval Marine Museo on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta.  Based on last year’s theme of corn at our retreat in El Tuito, tapestries telling stories about corn were presented by our weaving group.  The photos will show you what we were up to….corn is the sustenance of the people of Mexico, whether it be food for their stomachs or fuel for their souls.  Monsanto wants to have the Mexicans use its GMO seeds in their corn fields.  This protest has been going on for a few years — with riots and protesters marching in Mexico City.  This was our small way of supporting the Mexicans in their plight to remain in control of their corn seeds, their food and their way of life.  A quote from the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City sums it up well:  Maize is the foundation of rural life, and therefore, of the culture of Mexicans, as an axis of the productive economy, as an organizer of time and space, as an essential and irreplaceable element in cooking, as a raw material in many crafts and finally as the center and guide for knowledge accumulated over millenia that is constantly enriched.

Artist:  Elaine Duncan

Artist: Elaine Duncan

Artist:  Victoria Stone

Artist: Victoria Stone

Artist:  Sonja Miremont

Artist: Sonja Miremont

Artist:  Elaine Todd-Stevens

Artist: Elaine Todd-Stevens

Artist:  Gabriel Canales

Artist: Gabriel Canales

Artist:  Yadin Larochette

Artist: Yadin Larochette

Artist:  Christine Rivers

Artist: Christine Rivers

Artist:  Jean Pierre Larochette

Artist: Jean Pierre Larochette

Back from Mexico

Posted March 9, 2009

We arrived home safe and sound a week ago from 5 1/2 weeks in Mexico.  The first 14 days were spent at the Tapestry Retreat in El Tuito, hosted by Jean Pierre Larochette and Yael Lurie.  We were part of the first retreat, another group would arrive on Feb. 4 for a second retreat.  There were seven students in our group:  Jackie Wohlenberg, Elaine Todd-Stevens, Sonja Miremont, Victoria Stone, Nancy Trissel, Christine Rivers and myself.  Last year our theme was corn.  This year it was the narrative story in tapestry.  Jean Pierre described the workshop as a joint conversation about ways to enhance the narrative aspect of tapestry work.  For preparation for the workshop I looked up definitions of the terms:  narrative, abstract, conceptual.  Individually we worked on our stories.  Most everyone worked from photographs where either they “set” the narrative by photographing specific items eg.  Elaine Todd-Stevens had a photograph taken of her drawing at her table with her tapestry loom beside her, Victoria Stone had a photograph taken of her weaving on her loom, holding her tapestry bobbin.  Christine Rivers had a black and white photo of her trip to Japan showing bicycle riders holding umbrellas in the rain.  Jackie Wohlenberg worked from a photo of corn stalk stacks in a field near San Sebastian.  I had a photo of a tree in my son’s back yard in Las Vegas which showed a close-up of the bark.  Nancy had only woven a sampler from a book and JP gave her individualized instruction on French Tapestry weaving.  Sonja had a photo of rocks on a beach.  All very different images and different approaches were needed.  Jean Pierre noted that it is actually the listener who tells the story where the story teller gives the clues.  Jean Pierre wanted us to work directly from the photographs rather than  rendering a vision with a cartoon with defined techniques.  Language is a metaphor for an image, an image is worth a thousand words.  I would like to share with you a quote from June Wayne “The Tradition of Narrative Tapestry”, Craft Horizons, 1974:  “So if a weaving tells a story, let the story rank as literature.  If a weaving uses symbols, let them resonate as poetry….Let every thread bear witness.” I am off to a tapestry study group meeting and will continue with our experiences in Mexico another day.

Weaver:  Christine Rivers

Weaver: Christine Rivers

Weaver:  Elaine Todd-Stevens

Weaver: Elaine Todd-Stevens

Weaver:  Jackie Wollenberg

Weaver: Jackie Wollenberg

Weaver:  Sonja Miremont

Weaver: Sonja Miremont

Weaver:  Victoria Stone

Weaver: Victoria Stone

Weaver:  Nancy Trissel

Weaver: Nancy Trissel

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