Eugenia Mendoza & Family
Taller Manos de la Abuela
Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico
Eugenia Mendoza is part of several generations of tapestry-making in Teotitlan del Valle.
Her mother and grandparents began teaching her the many processes involved in the art of the tapestry at the age of 7, beginning with how to unravel wool and comb it until it's smooth. Being a large family and of low income, everyone in the family had to participate in the business to make ends meet. Nearly all parts of their lives revolved around the artwork.
Tapestry work is a year-round process that uses the passing seasons for different purposes. During the rainy season, Eugenia and her family collect wild ingredients from the mountains, like the pericon, indigo, and oak bark mulch.
At a young age, Eugenia was able to attend a tapestry class by Master Roman Gutierrez, who is a legendary tapestry artist in Oaxaca. She learned about color-making through organic methods and ingredients, which is an ancient prehispanic practice. It was also during this class that she met her husband Antonio who has been an integral part of their business as he had more experience working with the pedal loom. He learned from a new school of tapestry makers that learned how to create and re-create more painting-like images, on top of the more traditional geometric patterns often seen in Oaxacan tapestries. He lost his father at a young age and had to work very hard to provide for his family, becoming a reputable tapestry artist.
Today they have two children, Luis and Elisa, who have also learned the family craft and are pushing the boundaries of the work, with their own ideas. Elisa loves the color-finding science behind the art and Luis is becoming a masterful pedal-loomer.
In 2012 Eugenia and her family's work was represented and celebrated by the United Nations, in Mexico City during the inaugaration of new Mexican diplomat for the global organization. Since then they have also been recognized by the Department of Culture in Mexico City.
In the last year they rebranded their business and titled it Taller Manos de la Abuela (Grandmother's Hands Workshop) in honor of Eugenia's mother, who taught her nearly everthing she knows about tapestry art.