Arden Aibel Rothstein, PhD
New York, New York
Arden first fell in love with Oaxaca in 1961 – just before her 14th birthday – when she traveled there for the first of three summers to participate in a cultural program for American girls. This was a life-altering experience. Most important was getting to know folk artists and their families in the pueblos surrounding Oaxaca City.
Decades later, Arden introduced her daughters and husband to this enchanted place in which they devoted the majority of their time to visiting artists in their pueblos and learning about their crafts. This culminated in the creation of a book featuring the region’s spectrum of folk arts — Mexican Folk Art from Oaxacan Artist Families — co-authored and co-photographed with Anya, Arden’s daughter, in 2002. An expanded second edition was published in 2007. In the wake of protests in Oaxaca that seriously compromised the former robust flow of tourism, Arden – in collaboration with board member Cindy Weill (below) founded FOFA in 2007.
The Rothstein family has hosted numerous artesanos in New York City, arranging demonstrations in schools and museums and helping them market their work. The Rothsteins have a large personal collection of Oaxacan folk art that graces their home and professional offices. Arden is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, and Training and Supervising Analyst at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education affiliated with NYU School of Medicine.
Margee Rogers, DNP
Margee Rogers was first introduced to Mexican culture and folk art in 1967. She lived in Mexico City from 1979 to 1982 and has maintained very close ties with friends and family there, visiting at least once a year. One visit, in December 2011, took her to Oaxaca to explore the folk art villages. She discovered the FOFA 2011 young artist’s exhibit at MEAPO, was impressed with the quality of the work, and the support that FOFA provided the artists. Upon returning to the United States she began to volunteer. Her involvement has increased through the 2013 and 2016 competitions and ongoing projects to support artists and their families in Oaxaca.
Margee has worked as a nurse practitioner and health care administrator in a large school-based health program in the Bronx for the past 32 years, helping all youth achieve their full potential. She is also an aspiring potter and photographer, a lens that allows her to fully appreciate the talent, perseverance, tradition, and sheer hard work that goes into Oaxacan folk art.
Amy Mulvihill, M.A.
Brooklyn, New York
Amy’s first experience in Oaxaca was as a young girl in the early 1950s. She was a part of the first group of eight American girls hosted by Franny and Leon Sciaky, and then had the good fortune of returning for six more summers. There she formed very strong connections with artisans and others who lived in the pueblos surrounding Oaxaca. At that time, almost all of the indigenous people wore the “trajes” of their village and spoke one or another dialect of Mixteco or Zapoteco, the indigenous languages of the Valley of Oaxaca. Amy’s immersion in Oaxaca was truly life-changing, and continues to have an impact on many aspects of her life.
Amy worked as a teacher and then as a supervisor of teachers in the NYC public school system for 31 years. Although she retired prior to the large wave of Mexican immigration that has enriched the culture of New York, she recalls a harbinger of this development while walking in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens 20 years ago. Recognizing that a family she encountered was from Oaxaca, she was profoundly moved. Today, she continues to be delighted when she overhears Mixteco or Zapoteco being spoken when traveling home on the #2 train. As a kind of extension of her work in NYC schools, a number of years ago Amy and her husband Michael became involved in Centro Infantil, and organization that offers education, daytime care-taking and meals to children of elementary through high school age who would otherwise live on the streets. Michael has also sponsored the father of one child who started his education at age 11, and has now graduated from automotive training school.
Amy continues her support of Oaxacan artisans through her work with FOFA.
Brooklyn, New York
Deborah Huntington (Brooklyn, NY) has volunteered for three of FOFA’s young artists’ competitions in Oaxaca and every FOFA event in New York City. A recent retiree, she considers it a profound honor to work with the folk artists in Oaxaca. She views her work with FOFA as a way to celebrate the creative spirit and to push back against global commercialization and cultural homogeneity.
New York, New York
Janette is a Mexican hybrid, born to a Oaxacan father and Mexico City mother. She studied Biology at the National University of Mexico and lives in New York with her family. In love with Oaxaca since her childhood, Janette travels to Oaxaca to visit her family each summer. Gudelia, her Oaxacan grandmother, taught her how to select things at the market, how to make chocolate from cocoa beans, and how to cook mole. Janette’s love and passion for and knowledge of Oaxaca flourished in those visits to the market with its vibrant colors, aromas, sounds, textures and flavors.
Handicrafts have always been present in Janette’s life. Both her grandmothers handcrafted items themselves, or used handmade items for their household chores and to decorate their homes. Of the great variety of handicrafts, Janette especially appreciates Oaxacan Tehuana dresses, filigree jewelry, ceramic figurines and straw baskets. She decided to get involved with FOFA after learning about it on the internet; she immediately felt an emotional connection with its projects. A great addition, she was quickly invited to join the board.
Joyce M Grossbard, LCSW
New York, New York
Joyce fell in love with Oaxaca in 1969. Her first view of this magical city was when she arrived on horseback after traveling through the mountains from Chiapas. She returned to Oaxaca in 2005, camera in hand, bringing a keenly observant eye and a sense of ease born from her many years as a practicing psychotherapist. Her unique sensibility enabled her to capture the essence of the Oaxacan people. Joyce began photographing intimate portraits of Oaxacan women and children and the celebrations of Day of the Dead that resulted in two photography shows in Manhattan. Since then, her photographs of Oaxaca’s artisans and artwork have appeared in magazines, newspapers and books.
In addition to her photographic work, Joyce continues to practice and teach psychotherapy in New York and New Jersey and is a collector of Oaxacan art.
Ernest Kafka, MD
New York, New York
Ernie’s interest in Mexico came about when British friends invited him and his wife Barbara to spend a week with them in San Miguel de Allende. The climate, the beauty of that Spanish provincial town, the food, and the scenery all appealed greatly. They stayed in a large, beautiful, colonial, richly decorated house. When Ernie and Barbara’s friends moved to an old exterior, modern interior house, their folk art collection, mainly works from Michoacan, with some from Oaxaca as well, caught his attention.
The next spring the Kafkas decided to go to Oaxaca, with its fine museums, excellent food, and charming small and grand hotels, surrounded by the two Sierra ranges, pre-Columbian sites, and by villages widely known for their crafts. Arden Rothstein’s book, together with her local friend and driver, Tino, showed them around. They bought a bunch, met artisans, and became expert at shipping methods. There were several return trips, lots of reading, a bit of study of Spanish and greater acquaintance with area. The preservation of art and artisanal work and historical sites is important, but to Ernie, Oaxacan crafts people have a way of life that should also be supported, especially with the difficulties posed by economic and social-political change. Despite such obstacles, there remain families for whom the preservation of their crafts is important. Hence, Ernie’s interest in FOFA.
Susan Pasternak, DMH
New York, New York
Susan Pasternak had never been to Mexico until 1967 where she was a summer exchange student at the University of Guadalajara. Right away Mexico – its people, its language and culture, its contrasting landscapes, its food, its art, and its magic – completely captivated her. Susan’s first trip to Oaxaca was in 1970.Since then she has been drawn back with increasing frequency, exploring surrounding art towns, studying with a local artist, and undertaking intensive Spanish studies. Over four decades she has traveled throughout Mexico, but her deepening love of Mexican folk art draws her back to Oaxaca with regularity. Joining the FOFA board has allowed her to deepen her commitment to the art and artists of Oaxaca. Susan is a practicing psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in New York City.
Mariana M. Pedrero
New York, New York
Mariana was born in Mexico City. Her passion for her country’s culture started as a child, as she created in those early years all kinds of colorful crafts using eggshells, watercolor paintings, stones, and wood. It was not a surprise for her family that, before she enrolled in college, she chose to attend an art school in Paris to further develop her skills in painting. Mariana earned a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Universidad Anahuac and she got her Master’s degree at New York University in Product Design. As the former Director of the Eastern States of the Mexico Tourism Office in New York – and the general manager for international fairs and events of the Mexico Tourism Board – she became a strong promoter of tourism and culture. She shared Mexican culture with the world by bringing dancers, painters, crafts people, and the secrets of the cuisine of her homeland to most of the international events she coordinated while in office.
Today her passion for art and conveying Mexican culture is still alive, further strengthened by her new venture, Imagen Zebra in Mexico City and Zebra Creating Ideas in New York. In this medium, she continues her work on different projects that promote what Mexico has to offer as a unique cultural destination, as well as, collaborating with domestic and international corporations.
Growing up in El Paso, Texas Marissa was exposed at an early age to bordering Mexican cities and northern Mexican areas such as Chihuahua and Sonora. It was not until after moving to New York City in 1989, however, that she began to discover the contrasting central and southern states of Mexico, including Oaxaca. The connection was immediate from every aspect including food, culture, music, and of course the folk artists and their traditions. After returning several times, Marissa was fortunate enough to get married and host a traditional, indigenous wedding ceremony in Oaxaca in 2003. It was then that she formed long-lasting relationships with local cooks, restaurateurs, musicians, healers, weavers, and artesanos who contributed to the week-long celebration.
Since joining FOFA, Marissa has proudly been able to continue fostering these relationships and collaborate on the vital projects that have been essential to its mission and work. After working as a culinary consultant in the restaurant and hospitality industry in New York for over 25 years, Marissa moved to the Napa Valley in 2014 to begin a new adventure. She still works in hospitality but now within the wine industry, where her skills and experience are a perfect match for her newfound position. She hopes to bring awareness of FOFA and its mission to the west coast by disseminating information about their important work.
William Scanlan, Jr.
San Antonio, Texas
Bill served as a Captain in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1970 with one year of service in Vietnam. His decorations include the Army Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star. He was an adjunct professor of estate and gift taxation at St. Mary’s University School of Law for over twenty years, and is the author of numerous articles and a frequent lecturer on taxation, estate planning and trust and estate administration issues at programs such as the Wills & Probate Institute at the Center for American and International Law, the Annual American Institute on Federal Taxation, the University of Texas Annual Taxation Conference, the San Antonio Young Lawyer’s Docket Call in Probate Court, and State Bar of Texas seminars. Bill’s civic activities include service as Trustee of the following: College of Arts & Sciences of the University of Virginia; Oldfields School (Glencoe, Maryland); San Antonio Museum of Art; St. Luke’s Episcopal School; City Centre (San Fernando Cathedral) Foundation; Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital Foundation; St. Andrews-Sewanee School (Sewanee, Tennessee); and Main Plaza Conservancy.
Bill, who is fluent in Spanish, is an aficionado of Oaxacan folk art and a serious collector. He has generously helped FOFA apply for its non-profit status and continues to consult on legal issues as they arise. His son, William Scanlan, III, opened the first MailBoxes, Etc. store in Oaxaca, as well as a far wider region including Mexico City. In this capacity, he, too, has been very generous to Oaxacan artesanos and to FOFA.
Cynthia Weill, PhD
New York, New York
Cindy, along with Arden Rothstein, was one of the founders of FOFA. Cindy first visited Oaxaca in 1996 while she was living in Mexico on the Fulbright Teacher Exchange. Cindy holds a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University and masters degrees in education from the University of Pennsylvania and art history from Wesleyan.
Her dissertation research was conducted in Oaxaca in collaboration with the Aguilar sisters, ceramists considered Mexico’s most important female folk artisans. She is the author of the “Children’s First Concept Series,” a group of books that uses Oaxacan folk art to illustrate bilingual language concepts for children. The books in the series are, ABeCedarios (alphabet) – with wood carvers Moíses and Armando Jiménez – Opuestos (opposites) – with carvers Martín and Quirino Santiago –Colores de la vida, Count me in! with the Aguilar Sisters, My Skeleton Family with Jesús Canseco 2013 and Animal Talk 2016 with Rubí Fuentes and Efraín Broa (Cinco Puntos Press 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016) have won numerous awards and helped to create a more sustainable market for the artisans.