“We don’t see it as help but rather a collaborative work where we both learn. The artisans also learn with the work they do with us. We...perhaps...open them to experimenting more with their work. And they inspire us to dedicate our time to this craft,” says Textile Designer Denisse Kuri while working on a piece in her studio.
Pre-hispanic patterns form beautiful textures on the working tables in Denisse's studio. A space where contemporary and ancient fashion hang together, where indigenous bohemian style and traditional elegance is mixed to craft a striking collection.
Denisse's passion for indigenous textiles began after a trip to Chiapas, in Southern Mexico.
"And so off I went! I worked in an artisans’ cooperative, and it was only then that I saw everything behind the production of indigenous textiles."
“I found myself in a very different reality from the one I lived. Spending time and living with the artisans in such a magical place…this new life fascinated me. Six months in Chiapas...I can see a very different before and after. It’s another worldview, another way of life, another culture...it’s another everything….so it impacts you a lot.”
Denisse has been doing this for 5 years now. With her work she tries to express and transmit everything these textiles mean, all the work and all the sacrifice the artisans make to keep weaving. It’s a very labor intensive process and pays little. Many weavers like Cristina Casablanca (image bellow) live in isolated places where they can’t sell their work and it often goes forgotten or unnoticed.
"You now see that in many communities - more in Puebla than in Chiapas - artisan techniques and traditions are being lost due to the labor intensive nature of the work and low pay. What we try to do is preserve these traditions and ensure that the artisan receives the true value for her work. We want the artisan to value what she does and know what it means for our culture and people," says Denisse.
“I’m proud of my work. I tell my children, “Learn! I’m going to die in the future and neither one of you are going to continue with this work. There used to be a lot of people who did it, but there are fewer and fewer now. The only ones who continue doing it are my aunt and I, and I hope that at least one of my children will stay with it,” says Master Weaver Cristina Casablanca.
“For me, the greatest satisfaction is when we experiment with an artisan and she suddenly sees the result of the finished dress and says with surprise,“I can’t believe it. I didn’t really make that, did I?” says Denisse while staring at the collection.
With her work Denisse hopes to continue involving more artisans and more techniques, finding people looking to have connections with this art. The future is this work reaching other parts of the world and it speaking to people of its past and present.
Take a look at Denisse's collection!