Many people who travel to Guatemala become enchanted with the colorful blouses woven and worn by indigenous women. Artist Lena Bartula of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, says she became a huipilista when she met Mercedes, a weaver from San Antonio Aguas Calientes who was selling her wares on the streets in Mexico City. That encounter, almost 20 years ago, led to Bartula’s fascination with huipiles. A huipilista, then, would be one who falls in love with the magic and mystery of that textile tradition, to the extent that she buys them, wears them, trades to acquire them, travels to find them and weaves her life around them in any way she can.
After studying the intricacies of the weavings and the stories they tell, Bartula realized that these are the chronicles of women everywhere, throughout “herstory.” From that awareness, she began to create homage huipiles to honor female figures, whether human or mythological, individual or collective.
For example, she created her first huipil for Santa Lucía, whose feast day was, before the Gregorian calendar, the same day as the winter solstice. As a goddess, Lucía was known to wear a wreath of candles on her head to bring light in the darkest time of the year.
Ten years later, Bartula’s most recent piece pays homage to Guatemala’s beloved poet/writer Aláide Foppa, who disappeared in 1980 for her involvement in the struggle for human rights.
More than a dozen huipiles make up the exhibition “Contemporary Huipiles / Huipiles Contemporáneos,” which include commemorative works for garment workers, femicide victims, saints and sinners of all kinds; there is no shortage of material to inspire this artist.
The exhibition will open at the Museo Ixchel, Guatemala City on Feb. 3rd thru the 15th. *Sat. 8, 2pm — Meet the Artist Reception.
A shuttle will make it easier for those living in La Antigua to attend the public reception; please contact the artist (email@example.com) for more information. Additional references: www.lenabartula.com