Ann Brooks Photography

Photojournalism, art photography, studio happenings & resources

Posts Tagged ‘Oaxaca

Fiesta of the Virgin of Candelaria in Oaxaca

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February 2nd is Fiesta of the Virgin of Candelaria here in Oaxaca, and I understand in all of Mexico. It is the special day when families dress up their baby Jesus figures and carry them to church to get blessed. Some dress them at home but, as it turns out, some go into the markets to have special vendors dress them.

… I discovered the Jesus dress vendors in Mercado Juarez quite by accident. Late in the afternoon I wandered down there because, though I had been in Oaxaca several times before, I had not visited that market in recent years. Much to my surprise, I saw several women with nearly naked Jesus dolls, waiting in line at two market shops where they were dressing the dolls in elaborate clothes, some regal, some quite sweet. I stayed, watched the process for some time taking pictures to record the event.

After taking a number of photos of the dolls being dressed, I decided I had to finish the story by following some of the dolls and their owners to church for the blessing. I loved the photo of the young woman in pink heading to church with her Jesus doll in a bag, peering out!

The last photo on the lower right is of the wife of the owner of La Olla Restaurant, newly back from church and the blessing of her baby Jesus which she is returning to the display case.

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I am grateful to Carole Turkenik who, after more than thirty years living in and out of Oaxaca, has written “Oaxaca Tips“, a through and unique compendim of interesting places, happenings — including this event, shopping, restaurants in Oaxaca to share her insights.

Written by annbrooksphoto

March 6, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Textile Museum of Oaxaca – Museo Textil de Oaxaca

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In the heart of the city of Oaxaca is the only textile museum in Mexico. Museo Textile de Oaxaca is in a restored grand 18th Century home. Privately funded, the museum opened early in 2008.

Though the museum’s exhibitions often feature the work of Oaxacan weavers and needle craftspersons, this October they mounted an impressive exhibition of the Guatemalan textile collection of René Bustamante.

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Museum director, Ana Paula Fuentes Quintana introducing René Bustamante during the opening reception for the exhibition of his Guatemalan textile collection.

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One of the museum’s main missions is to provide resources to Oaxacan weavers and designers. While I was there, a natural dye workshop was taking place.

In addition to education, the museum provides a library and textile restoration. It is not unusual to find a weaver from one of the villages surrounding the city of Oaxaca is demonstrating their techniques in the atrium of the museum.

Click here for the museum’s website.

Written by annbrooksphoto

November 12, 2009 at 2:56 am

Fighting poverty with micro finance in Oaxaca villages

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Last week I joined a group who went to visit women who are struggling entrepreneurs in the village of Teotitlán del Valle outside of Oaxaca City in Mexico. The village has been, for generations, a weaving village. Five of the women we visited are, in fact weavers.

We went with Investours, “tours that fight poverty”. Our guide was Carlos Hernandez Topete, co-founder of the non-profit organization. Carlos, a native of Oaxaca with a business degree from Boston University met Ashwin Kaja, currently studing law at Harvard and who had been researching how to blend tourism and micro finance. Carlos saw a way that Ashwin’s concept could be applied to villiages surrounding Oaxaca and in 2008 they created Investours. Click here to find out more about the organization and how you can participate. [March  2010, Investours changed their name to En Via and the link is to their new website.]

ABrooks_091003_002We visited two groups of three women in their own home studios where they showed us what they were making to sell and explained why they needed a loan, typically $100 to $150 US.

In the first group was Yanet Bagan who makes jewelry and uses the proceeds from sales to pay for transportation to be able to continue school as higher grades are some distance from the village. Yanet needed money to buy more of two types of wire. One a silver color, the other black. With it she will continue to be able to make more of her stunning wire-work earrings.

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Teresa Lopez was the first of four weavers who needed a loan to buy more yarn that is already spun and dyed. Though many weavers had done their own carding, spinning and dying of the wool, they now feel it is more efficient to have others do that time-consuming part of the process so that they can spend their time weaving.

ABrooks_091003_045Teresa Sosa was the third woman in the first group. Also a weaver, she wanted a loan so she could buy already spun and dyed yarn.

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In the second group of three, Soledad “Chole” Martinez (right) is a weaver, doing contract weaving for other weavers. However, because work is sometimes slow,for two years she has been selling Avon products to supplement income. She needed a loan in order to buy a small table to display her Avon products on in the village’s market place.

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Guadeloupe Contreras and Juana Bazán, both weavers each wanted loans to buy ready-spun and dyed yarn.

After visiting the two groups of three woman artisans, we went to a restaurant for a traditional Oaxican meal, At the end of the meal we discussed the groups, what their needs were and decided between us to which group our tour money would be given as an interest-free loan. In the end, it was agreed that the first group should be given the loan this time, but we all wanted to see Chole (the Avon lady in the second group) get her table and happily contributed a little more, specifically earmarked for that purpose.

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Click for Investours Facebook page ~ for Investours website ~ or email: see below.

NOTE: [March  2010, Investours changed their name to En Via and the link is to their new website. Email for emily is now -- emily at envia.org.]


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The many cultural splendors of Oaxaca-part 1

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During my first week in Oaxaca this year, it seems every day there have been amazingly diverse cultural or poiltical happenings .

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Last Saturday afternoon in the Zocalo, among many happenings, there was a clown entertaining people next to the Red Cross teaching artificial respiration in front of the Cathedral — saving bodies in front of the place where they save souls.

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Sunday at Santo Domingo Museum was a gallery opening for the work of Lola Cueto, Mexican painter, printmaker, puppet designer and puppeteer. Oh yes, and she made beautiful tapestries.

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The many cultural splendors of Oaxaca – part 2

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More happenings during my first week here … immediately before the gallery opening a group marched down Acala protesting for women’s right to make their own decisions regarding abortion. Even in this Catholic country, this might not have been surprising in Mexico City, but here in more conservative Oaxaca, I suspect it is unusual.

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Monday night in the Teatro Juarez, we heard a Mozart mass with the Oaxaca Symphony Orchestra and civic chorus.

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Tuesday evening on an open air stage next to Santo Domingo Church, we saw ballet folklórico with several different groups performing, the largest of which I had seen here last year, same time (of the year), same place.

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And, oh yes, during the earlier part of each week day we have four hours of Spanish language study at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca.

Written by annbrooksphoto

October 6, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Editing lesson from Kim Komenich, Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist.

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I recently met with Kim Komenich, Pulitzer Prize winner and teacher extraordinaire, for his edit of some of my work. As a late-blooming photojournalist, I always learn a great deal from his comments. He explained that he was editing for a photojournalism story, beginning, middle, end.

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Komenich picked this image as a scene setter. It shows the peoples faces, is about who is there, we can see people we can care about. Additionally he singled this one out for it’s “staying power”, as being a powerful image on its own.

I took these images in Oaxaca, Mexico on the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Mexico City massacre. Students, anarchists and others held a protest march keeping the memory of the massacre alive as well as protesting current injustices. Their message was “Ni perdon, ni olvido Mexico 68.” Neither forgive nor forget — the events on October 2, 1968. Here are Kim’s picks for the story with his comments.

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Above, though not a fan of showing other people’s signs, Kominech says this one is another way to set the scene, it tells why they are there.

Image right, Komenich points out, “is full of little gifts”. There is a lot of activity, people reacting to the situation in a variety of ways.

He also points out that the image has it’s faults — is tipped and not taken square on, as it sould have been. But hey, it has it’s “gifts.”

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Image left, he sites for good design.

On the right Komenich begins to drive home the importance of being able to see people’s eyes. The image shows lots of action and reaction.

Below left, he points out, is a young man who isn’t “playing anarchist” as he surmises all the ones with masks are. He is the real thing and isn’t hiding.

I remember working so hard to keep other people with cameras out of my pictures. Kim wisely pointed out that when it’s a “media circus” sometimes you just have to show it for what it is, lower right.

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To see the contrast between Komenich’s edit and my original edit of this story click here and check out the slide show. Big lessons here.

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Addendum:    This morning, by the bright light of day, I see I missed posting the flag burner (right) that was Kim’s choice. He made a point of the fact that in this one you can see his eyes. Check out the pick in my original edit and compare how much more powerful the image is when you see the young man’s eyes.

Yes, it is indeed very difficult to edit our own work.

Written by annbrooksphoto

April 9, 2009 at 1:11 am

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