From February 3-29, 2012 “Hands that Create and Eyes that Read,” a delightful folk art exhibition conceived and carried out by Rosa Blum, is on view in Oaxaca at the Biblioteca Henestrosa, Porfirio Diaz no 115, esq. con Avenida Morelos. It conveys parallel reflections upon the talent of Oaxaca’s artesanos and the creativity of books.
This energetic project began — and was interrupted — by the 2006 violent social conflict that took place in Oaxaca from June-December 2006. Although by January, 2007, these events subsided, due to the exaggerated press that persisted well beyond the realities, Oaxaca became a dangerous place in the minds of many, and sadly, tourists and visitors chose other destinations. Among those greatly affected were the craftspeople of Oaxaca whose who felt their customer base disappear with the critical decline of tourism.
Rosa Blum who, for many years worked closely with artesanos, had contemplated the many friends arriving and asking for work prior to this unfortunate situation. Prior to June, 2006, she had begun commissioning pieces with the theme of books and reading. The artesanos responded with creativity beyond expectation. It was the moment to create work. Over the years what began as a simple gesture to help became a larger project with a life of its own.
The creativity and beauty to which the artesanos responded to the idea of books surpassed all expectations. Readers were created out of all creatures. These figures read in all imaginable positions and situations. They reflect the imagination, fun, and learning that books provide. From individual pieces like a gloriously fat pig reading “The Stomach First” to large ensemble pieces like a cart filled with animal readers so intent upon reading peacefully that they forget their natural animosity.
This work not only displays the creativity and humor of the Oaxacan craftspeople but also celebrates the importance of reading. Besides the creativity displayed here, this exhibit is also a testimony to the flexibility of talent. Given a relatively new idea the artesano excelled to explore and create new themes.
There are twenty-five artesanos from 6 different villages participating in this exhibit. In Oaxaca where the artisans are so accessible, Rosa Blum hopes this exhibition will encourage visitors to develop and commission the craftspeople to create their own ideas as a testimony to what they love.