The theme "Showing the Strength of My Pueblo/People" and vigorous advertising campaign elicited more submissions than ever before: 132. And they were of outstanding quality, posing quite a challenge for the four expert judges who participated in an all-day review on August 11th. In view of the abundance of excellent textile pieces our FOFA team decided to sub-divide them into two categories: shuttle loom woolen rugs (tapetes) and other textiles (embroidery, back strap loom weaving and the like).
Part of the Crowd at the Award Ceremony
The festive award ceremony on August 17th and viewing of all submitted pieces in the gallery was attended by well over 400 people, standing room only -- more than double the usual turnout.
Initial Viewing of the Pieces in the Gallery
Sixty-six artists will be featured in our upcoming full-color catalogue: Nineteen 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners and 47 honorable mentions.
Honorable Mention Recipient
Youngest Contest Participant
Over the next months we will introduce some of the memorable participating artists and their works. We begin with one first-time participant: Gabriel Sosa Ortega, a 25-year-old woodcarver from San Mart
ín Tilcajete, whose dramatic piece "Inclusion" conveys a profound and timely message.
Gabriel in his Studio
Gabriel Sosa Ortega
On the coast of Oaxaca, a community of African-Americans, descendants of slaves, quietly pursue their daily lives, working very hard and caring for their families. Yet they remain unrecognized and excluded by the larger society around them. This striking fact formed the underpinning for Gabriel's wood-carved sculpture entitled "Inclusion," his commentary on society as a whole. He emphasizes the necessity of breaking down barriers between people, since he believes, "When we scratch the surface, we are all alike under the skin".
Gabriel with "Inclusion"
In his grand piece - that combines numerous aspects of his culture -- a woman who is a composite of skin tones grows out of a cactus; underneath her bluish figure the white of raw copal wood is visible. The plant
(maguey) is the source of
mezcal, thought to be a mystical drink stimulating creativity. The fetus of a jaguar (the guardian of terrestrial darkness) is nurtured by corn that sprouts into a glorious sunset.
On the woman's abdomen, encircled by corn kernels affixed to the wood, Gabriel conveys the strength of her people -- who combine industriousness and pleasure. Children play on swings, a joyous procession
(calenda) takes place and adults dance, fish jump, while farmers, fishermen and woodcarvers vigorously carry out their daily labors. The woman's hair created from cactus fiber
(ixtle) is braided on top of her head to form a base for carrying wood and water, as women have done for centuries. The engraved design and pointillist application of contrasting tones is signature of Gabriel's work and reminiscent of the tattoos of ancient times.
Gabriel is an artist of extraordinary talent who thinks deeply about his culture and the human condition. We are grateful for his contribution.