Tag Archives: mexican folk art

Los Milagros.

26 Mar

From the moment I arrived in San Miguel, I was fascinated by artwork that made use of small silver charms depicting hearts, faces, legs, arms, elements from nature…the list seems endless.  On my first proper day and outing in the city, I was exploring the monthly artists market at the Instituto Allende and was taken with one stall in particular.  Wooden jewelry featured carvings of the images I saw in all the silver charms, as well as antique charms that were added to some of the pieces that added a personalized charm.

I was immediately drawn to one necklace in particular that featured a heart and multiple strands of small round wooden beads, all hand-painted in a muddied red with a subtle gold brush run over top.  The artist herself, Rocio, very quickly introduced herself and was kind enough to explain different prints and shadow boxes that were also featured as part of her ‘shop’.  I decided that the unusual necklace had to come home with me that day but was so impressed with Rocio’s work that I asked if I could feature her on Thrill of the Chaise and she very kindly invited me to see more of her work at her home later in the week.

To give a bit more explanation behind the title of this post and these little charms that act as a theme behind so much of the artwork in San Miguel and Mexico itself, I will relay the information given to me by another artist at the market.  These charms or ‘milagros’ are very literally called ‘miracles’.  Depending on what matters weigh on you or what you hope to pray for, you get a ‘milagro’ or charm that relates.  The heart for matters weighing on your heart or the leg for a physical impairment.  There are so many to choose from, you’ll never be without the right ‘milagro’.  You take your milagro to the church and pray, leaving the charm as a gift and reminder of the prayers you have made.  Beautiful, right?

Rocio’s home was that of a true, inspired artist.  It was bright and light.  A pink painted chair on the porch was a reminder to have fun no matter where you find yourself.  She had created a lovely display of her work which included so many more necklaces and bracelets depicting and including various ‘milagros’.  She had earrings for miles, made with bottle caps and gorgeous depictions and colors.  Her shadow boxes told stories of Mexican wrestlers and the beauty of ‘found objects’.

What struck me most about Rocio and her work was not just the usage of materials that might otherwise be discarded, which as re-energized into something incredibly beautiful, but the love for art that she has instilled in every member of her family and her wanting to share her family through art.  Prints on the walls of old postage stamps enlarged made a beautiful statement being able to see the ink stamps and writing that covered parts of the image.  Rocio explained she found the stamps in a box of her grandmother’s things and thought they were works of art in their own right.  Also as a part of her grandmother’s relics, she told us how her grandmother had passed on many antique ‘milagros’ (yes, the charms) in various sizes and shapes, which she has started to work into some of her jewelry and shadow boxes.  Something which some of us may hide away in a box in the attic, Rocio wants to share.  She told us they were too beautiful to not be shared and to know that she wanted a part of her family history to become a part of another family spoke volumes about the kind of woman Rocio is.  What good are material possessions if they are not being shared and their story not being kept alive?

In sharing her family through her art, it was wonderful to see how proud, and rightfully so, Rocio is about her family (husband and lovely children), all of whom are artists in their own right.  Her husband makes beautiful, one of a kind lamps and shadow boxes full of more of these precious charms.  We saw cork jewelry her son makes.  And she let us see pictures of the dolls her daughter makes of socks and found objects which has won her awards at school for creativity.  I am not sure which was most impressive…her overwhemling pride in her family’s wonderful and individual talents or the talent of each family member themselves!

Rocio currently only sells her items in-person at markets but her work is AMAZING so if you would like to contact her about any of the pieces you saw in this post or would like to discuss a custom piece, please get in touch with me!

A Work of Art.

20 Mar

San Miguel is, in itself, a work of art.  The colors, the architecture, the people, the music…it is a beautiful place.  It does help that the city is home to two of the greatest art schools in Mexico (and the world) and is full of aspiring and hugely talented artists.

On my first day, we headed over to Instituto Allende (one of the aforementioned schools) for a huge artists market that takes place once a month.  Walking into this historic building, the courtyard is covered with stalls of artists selling their wares.  Jewelry, paintings, shadow boxes, embroidery, clothing, pottery, statues, everything you could imagine.  Live music was playing and there is a little coffee shop tucked away in a small corner to rest your weary feet and consider your purchases.

I, of course, was like a kid in a candy shop.  I walked away with a gorgeous crystal necklace and a coconut carved into a little mask of a fat, pink-faced lady…as well as another necklace that I will share later in the week.  The craftsmanship was all amazing and the prices were even better.  Ok, I may have pulled the ‘oh no dad, I love this but I have no pesos, sad face’ act a couple of times…  :)

One of San Miguel’s hidden gems is Mercado de Artesanias.  Tucked down a little entryway right next to the city’s largest farmers market, this artists market travels down alleyway after alleyway, down stairs and winding through quiet parts of the town, lined with artists stalls selling everything from postcards to quilts to works of art for the home.  I went three times during my visit and still don’t think I got to see everything!  You can find almost everything you see in the more expensive boutiques around the city center garden but at a fraction of the price.  And haggle away.  It’s pretty easy.  I picked up a few gifts here as well as some brightly colored paper buntings with depictions of skeletons and flowers.  I think they’ll look very cool split up and framed as a series or put into one long frame to showcase them in their original banner form.

It has to be said that the artwork that filled the villa in which we considered ‘home’ is pretty impressive (and most likely purchased at the Mercado).  I could show you everything but no one wants to look at that many pictures from anyone’s vacation, so I chose to show you this funny clay ark with depictions of all the animals that Noah saved (except I am not sure how those human faced monkeys sitting on the roof ended up there).

I also wanted to share this amazing work of art that was created using small squares of sculpted paper you can find all over the market.  My parents were quite taken with the installation so by the time I left, we had already started a collection of nine…so only a million more to go  :)


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