For explanation of this series please see Mexico Redux 1.
I wrote this post just before leaving for an extended painting trip to Mexico in January 2012. I have edited the original for this redux. I talk about Huichol art because the high desert surrounding San Miguel De Allende (the town I paint in) is home to the ancient peoples and rituals that give birth to this art form. Huichol art has always been cloaked in a veil of mysticism — probably one of the reasons serious collectors seek out this form of artesanía. Colourful, symbolic ‘yarn paintings,’ inspired by visions experienced during spiritual ceremonies, characterize Huichol art. In the ceremonies, shaman artists ingest peyote, a hallucinogenic, which induces brightly coloured visions; these are considered messages from their ancestors. The symbolic and mythological imagery of these visions influences the art, which encompasses not only yarn paintings but also fascinating masks and bowls decorated with tiny colored beads. ‘Yarn paintings’ are created by patiently and sensitively adhering hundreds of strips of brightly coloured yarn to a solid background to form images such as are seen in the artwork above.
I purchased this ‘yarn painting’ from Antonio, a Huichol shaman artist in San Miguel De Allende. Despite our difficulty in conversing – his English and my Spanish being poor – I understood that certain symbolic images appear in this work. I wrote down what I could understand of what Antonio told me about those images and have made a tentative translation of his words into a poem of sorts:
Wearing the mask of the sacred deer the Healer dances until dawn around the ceremonial fire. We all dance until dawn around the ceremonial fire.
Taking the meat of the sacred deer the Healer feeds the people and the gods around the ceremonial fire. We all feed each other around the ceremonial fire.
Before the dawn the Healer must perform the cleansing. The Moon offers the Healer her secret power of wisdom and dreams to perform the cleansing and we are cleansed.
After the dawn the Healer must perform the healing. The Sun offers the Healer his secret power of heat and light and with eagle feathers the Healer performs the healing and we are healed.
At noon the Water God sends the Hummingbird. The Hummingbird is the third blessing of the dance. The Hummingbird brings laughter and children and blesses the Healer and we are all blessed.
At sunset the Healer blesses the corn. The blessing of the corn offers hope for a full harvest, offers hope for our health and for our children’s health, offers full bellies for us all.
In this way we honour our gods. In this way we honour our ancestors. In this way we honour the earth. In this way we honour ourselves.
Huichol Yarn Painting by Antonio / Poem by Clinock.