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Peyotero Visions of Covid Selected for Art of Healing Exposition at Vanderbilt University

My first Huichol-inspired art quilt, Peyotero Visions of Covid has been selected for the Art of Healing Exposition at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee!

Peyotero Visions of Covid

I feel so happy that my work has been recognized at last! This art quilt was first conceptualized in April of 2020. There was a call for entries for a national quilt show organization. The show for which I created this work was called “Quarantine Quilts.” I worked my ass off to get my quilt completed in time. I knew I wanted to use Huichol yarn painting figures and a coronavirus image in the design.  It took many hours to complete and I learned a lot while doing it.  I submitted my application at the end of May, and in July I received a rejection email.

I was sad that I wasn’t accepted, but in the end, the show never happened because of the pandemic. The silver lining is that this experience led me to create this quilt after having thought about making a Huichol-inspired piece of art for a long time. 

Earlier this year, another artist told me about the call for entries to the Art of Healing Exposition here in Nashville.  It looked like a great idea so I read up on it.  At first, I saw that there was a size limit of 36”x36” and my heart sank; my quilt was longer than 36 inches! I emailed the organization with a photo of my work to see if they could make an exception.  Someone responded right away and said my quilt was beautiful and that they could make an exception to the size rule.

They originally said the entrants would be announced at the end of April.  I didn’t hear anything until mid May when they said that they had received way more applicants than they had anticipated.  We were informed that we would be notified by the Memorial Day weekend.

A few nights ago, I received their email telling me that my work had been selected for display at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center!  That was my ideal location for display from all the locations they had chosen for displaying all the art. I was so excited after I found out that It was hard for me to sleep.

I’m so glad that my precious art quilt will have an opportunity to be viewed by the public! Peyotero Visions of Covid will be on display from September 2021 through December 2022.

For more information on the Art of Healing Exposition, please visit their website.

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How and Why I Make Lotería Wall Art

Lotería is a game from Mexico that is a lot like Bingo. The difference is that instead of numbers and letters, you have to match pictures.

When I was a little girl growing up in Hayward, California, my siblings and I would play Lotería at my abuelita’s (grandmother’s) house. We would use beans for markers and we bet a penny on each hand that was played. This was in the late 1950’s, so a nickel went a long way.

I’m not sure when it began, but I started seeing lots of folk art in Mexico using various images from the Lotería game.  Maybe it’s because every Mexican has played Lotería at their abuelita’s house that these images are so beloved.

I made my first Lotería art piece eleven years ago.  I always loved La Sirena, so that’s the one I chose to interpret.  Since then, I have also created La Bota, La Estrella, El Pajaro, El Nopal, La Rosa, El Paraguas, La Calavera, and most recently, La Corona.

I make my Lotería pieces by first increasing the size of an actual Lotería card so that the proportions are correct. I trace the overall design then I break it down into light and dark sections and colors. Choosing the right fabrics is always the most difficult. I use mostly batiks because they come in many shades and hues.

The parts of the design have to be cut out of fabric adhesive paper that has to be adhered to the wrong side of the fabrics. I often use a light box to lay everything out.  Once I’ve laid them out, they have to be carefully ironed to the background fabric. It is difficult to remove them if you make a mistake.

The next step is to carefully print the name of the card and the number on the fabric.

After all the fabrics have been adhered to the background fabric, I add two borders of contrasting fabric. Believe it or not, this is tricky because it’s so hard to make perfectly parallel lines and right angles! I make a layer of batting and and another fabric so I can begin quilting.

 I sew everything down using various types of machine stitches.  You have to go slowly!  After all pieces are sewed down I add hand embroidery and beads if it’s part of the design.  

Finally, I quilt the background using a free-motion type of quilting.  Think of this as drawing with your sewing machine.

Sometimes what seems the most simple step turns out to be the most difficult.  When the entire piece is done being sewn, I have to trim it to exactly 12 x 16 inches so that it will fit over a purchased canvas frame.  This drives me nuts at times.  Fabrics can stretch a lot no matter how many rulers you have used or measuring you have done.  I have been known to tear things apart and start over.  In any case, once I have attached the piece to the frame, it is done except for my signature! 

Voilà, the final product!

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What does “Ay Chinaca” mean?

Once a year, my girlfriends and I go on a Chicas’ Weekend trip.  We talk, dance, and cook a lot.  Gerrie, who is an excellent chef, once exclaimed while cooking, “Ay chinacos!”  I had never heard the word chinacos before.  I asked her what it meant and she didn’t know, either.  

Somehow, that word stuck in my mind.  When my daughter and I were trying to come up with a name for my online store, chinacos popped up.  We decided to make it feminine, so ¡Ay Chinaca! was what we decided to use for the name. 

We also checked to make sure it didn’t mean anything bad in any language.  After a little bit of research we discovered that Chinacos was a word used to refer to the guerrilla fighters during the Mexican Revolutionary War.  So, this is one of the reasons the main photo is of myself (from many years ago) and my fellow Mexican folk dancers posing as revolutionaries or, Chinacos!