"I create color from natural materials. My dyes and my weavings are respected and I am famous for them—they have made me an ambassador for the Zapotec community. Through my art, I share my passion, my legacy and my culture with the world."
Porfirio Gutiérrez has dedicated his life to revitalizing traditional Zapotec dye techniques through masterful and innovative textiles. He has been featured on a PBS series on the arts and has created a documentary that was funded by the Smithsonian. In 2015, he was selected by the Smithsonian to be one of only four artists in the Western hemisphere to participate in their Artist In Leadership Program. Articles about his work have been published in the New York Times and other major publications. Some of the Gutiérrez family's dye materials were documented and added to the Harvard Art Museums' Forbes Pigment Collection, a world-renowned repository of art materials.
"I was born in Teotitlan del Valle, in the state of Oaxaca. I am a craftsman making wool rugs. I consider myself passionate about my work, as well as a defender, researcher and ambassador of the Zapotec community. Since I was very young, my home became my school. And it was thanks to my father that I started this type of work, not only because I was born to it, but because I discovered that my passion is weaving.
"I have a deep love for this art form more than anything because I can contribute positively to my community—be it in culture, technique, color or design. It is a way in which I share my vision and my life's mission. My inspiration comes from each of the details of our Mexican culture, and I like to express it mainly in color. My mission is to preserve and elevate our natural dye techniques, which historically convey a vision of our identity, as well as raising awareness of the importance of its preservation.
"Some of the main materials for the elaboration of the textiles that I commonly use are wool, ixtle cactus fiber, palm leaves, recycled copper wire and other plant fibers and feathers. Working with natural materials is a challenge, since the weaving technique I use is made to be woven with fine and soft materials. All the wool and vegetable fibers are prepared by families with whom I collaborate.
"Starting out was quite a challenge, especially in the selection of materials and the positioning of each of my designs. Now it is one of the details that I enjoy the most about my work, from design, weaving and dyeing, as well as promotion.
"My goal is to continue creating color to complement design trends. I want to continue to exalt my art form, traveling the world, exhibiting my technique, giving lectures and transmitting part of my family's legacy and the substance of this beautiful work."