Artist


Porfirio Gutierrez is a California-based Zapotec textile artist and natural dyer, born and raised in the richly historic Zapotec textile community of Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico. He grew up immersed in color and surrounded by the wildness of Oaxaca's mountains, and by the knowledge of plants for healing and for color. His life’s work has been revitalizing and preserving traditional Zapotec natural dye techniques with a focus on reinterpreting traditional textiles and materials to reflect his distinct creative vision.  

Working in both Ventura, California, and Oaxaca, Gutíerrez’s art practice maintains his ancestor’s spiritual belief in nature as a living being, sacred and divine. His grounding in Zapotec traditional knowledge manifests in his textiles, reinterpreting the traditional weaving language, subverting and re-imagining the symbols and forms, morphing his textile designs toward the fractal forms and spaces of architecture and the movement he sees in cities and urban environments. 

Gutíerrez is a truly American artist, moving freely across the imposed borders between his two countries, as his ancestors and many other Indigenous peoples have done for thousands of years. His designs draw deeply on his experiences of two cultures, moving between the traditional and the modern, but always reliant on the deep knowledge and spiritual dimensions of his work. Gutíerrez’s practice is an offering to the land and celebrates the people who now call this land home. 

The story of his art has been told in The New York Times, PBS, and the BBC World Service, London. Gutíerrez has been featured in Vogue Magazine and the Smithsonian’s American Indian Magazine. In 2015, he received the Smithsonian Institution’s Artist in Leadership fellowship award. His work is in the collection of the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares, Fomento Cultural Banamex, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian. A selection of Gutiérrez dye materials was also documented and added to Harvard Art Museums’ Forbes Pigment Collection, the world-renowned archive of artist materials. 

 

Porfirio Gutiérrez

Selected Exhibitions

2019

Man of Two Worlds
San Luis Obispo Museum of Art
San Luis Obispo, California

2018

Exodus
Palm Springs Art Museum
Palm Springs, California

Rituals
Travois Gallery Space
Kansas City, MO

Ritual de los Sueños
Museo Textil de Oaxaca
Oaxaca, Mexico

2017

Cycle of Life
Cam Gallery, Carnegie Art Museum
Oxnard, California

2016

Contemporary Art of Shibori and Ikat
10th International Shibori Symposium and Exhibition
Centro de las Artes, San Agustín, Oaxaca, México

Manos y Alma de Oaxaca
Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares
México City, México

2015

Intercontinental Biennial of Indigenous Art
World Award for the most outstanding traditional art and culture. A traveling exhibit shown in London, Egypt, USA, Norway, Denmark, and Canada (2015 through 2017)

2014

2014

Threads of Life
Museum of Ventura County,
Ventura, California

Bienal de Artes Indigenas Contemporaneo
Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares
Mexico City, México

Selected Interviews

5 ways to fix fashion’s biggest pollution problem
Vogue Australia

Vivid Colors, Naturally
New York Times

Saving an Ancient Craft:
Porfirio Gutiérrez Returns Hom
e
American Indian, Magazine of Smithsonian’s
National Museum of the American Indian

A Colorful Tradition
Index, Harvard University

Ancient Weaving
PBS TV (video)

The Fabric of your Life
Selvedge, London

Tejedor de Sueños
Univision TV (video)

No Quería Ser un Artesano Más
El Universal (newspaper article)

The Weaver from the Place of God
Flint Magazine (video on Flint website)

Local Hero
Hole & Corner, London

Museum Collections

National Museum of American Indian
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C.

Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies
Fogg Museum, Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Fomento Cultural Banamex
Mexico City, Mexico

MACO
Contemporary Art Museum
Oaxaca, México

Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares
México City, México

Museum of Ventura County
Ventura, California

Distinctions

2016 Artist Leadership Program
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Washington, D.C.

2012 Honorable Mention
Bienal de Artes Indigenas Contemporaneas
Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes
Mexico City, México

Selected Lectures

Traditional Zapotec Dyes:
Surviving in the Modern World

Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Color: The Language of the Earth
Fowler Museum, UCLA
Los Angeles, California

The Art of Hand Made
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Innovation Within Traditional Folk Art
De Young Museum
San Francisco, California

Sustainability to Dye for:
Preserving Zapotec natural dyeing tradition

International Folk Art Market
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Focus on the Masters Artist Spotlight:
A Conversation with Porfirio Gutiérrez

Lecture, oral history and video documentation of Porfirio's life work
Ventura, California

Traditional Techniques: Preservation in the Modern World
Mingei International Museum
San Diego, California

Bring it Home
Artists Reconnecting Cultural Heritage with Community
Panel discussion with artists in the National Museum of the American Indian’s Artist Leadership Program
Washington, DC