Porfirio Gutiérrez – Maxican American, Zapotec Textile Artist
Born and raised in the richly historic Zapotec textile community of Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico. His life’s work has been reviving and preserving traditional Zapotec natural dyeing techniques, with a focus on reinterpreting traditional textiles and materials.
Living and working in both California and Oaxaca, Gutíerrez’s practice brings awareness to a profound spiritual belief that nature is a living being, sacred, and divine. His expression in the arts resolves the apparent conflict between ancient and modern – between a hands-on life where one creates everything from the food one eats to the clothes one wears, versus an urban life where needs are met through complex systems of interacting mechanisms. He resolves the apparent dichotomy by integrating, reinterpreting, and incorporating the symbols and natural materials that have held meaning for thousands of years.
He is inspired by cultural objects such as palm leaf mats used in cultural ceremonies, traditional garments, the Saltillo sarape designs, and the architecture of ancient buildings at Mitla, one of the most sacred Zapotec sites. From the urban landscape, he sees direct parallels between Zapotec architecture and the modern lines of midcentury aesthetics. In his pieces, these influences merge in a new and expanding dialogue.
His studio revolves around the efforts and traditions of family and community, expressing an understanding and a vision that is deeply rooted in his Zapotec culture. Gutíerrez continuously reflects on his ancestor’s knowledge and wisdom to deepen his own understanding of his place in time and history. His work is the result of that reflective spirit and his desire to share deep cultural appreciation with younger generations of Zapotecs.
To learn more, visit our Exhibitions & Awards page.