Walk down any street in Oaxaca City, and you’ll be dazzled by color: color so intense it seems to make your eyes vibrate. There’s such uninhibited joy! Turquoise and cerise and lime and sunshine yellow…these colors don’t necessarily come from nature, but they frame the nature of that place.
Drive a few miles out of town to the weaving village of Teotitlán de Valle, past open expanses of dusty brown, to the studio of the Gutierrez family, and you’ll feel a whole different color vibe. Deep, rich, soulful reds, indigo, sheeps’ wool grays. The colors native to that place.
I was lucky to be in Oaxaca City in 2017 with Keith Recker and photographer Joe Coca. We had just finished photographing the glorious natural-dyed yarns and studio of Juana Gutierrez Contreras for Keith’s book, True Colors: World Masters of Natural Dyes and Pigments, and met with a group of artists, which included Ana Paula Fuentes.
Now, Ana Paula is a force of nature: co-founder of the splendid Museo Textil de Oaxaca, international fashion knitwear designer, experimental artist, promoter of indigenous Maya weavers, tour guide extraordinaire—I could go on. And Keith: color consultant, author, creative director, publisher, promoter of indigenous artisans worldwide, and so much more. They both are deeply, brilliantly visual in their lives and work, and utterly generous in sharing what they see. Hence these two books.
The shots from Keith’s book all come from that time in Teotitlán de Valle, just one of 26 vivid chapters in the newly revised edition. The shots from Ana Paula’s book are a small sampling of places she traveled throughout Mexico with her trusty camera and her eyes open wide.
At a time when the world may seem gray and uncertain, you could hold these books in your hands, page through them again and again, and be reminded that beauty and joy abound.