Woven Lives - Vidas Enretejidas

Weavings and the Weavers of Oaxaca, Mexico

Year: 2010, 76 mins - NTSC
Code: CK-Woven


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A documentary by Carolyn Kallenborn, Woven Lives: Contemporary Textiles from Ancient Oaxacan Traditions examines how traditional art and design play an active role in the cultural sustainability of the Zapotec communities in Oaxaca. This documentary, which traces the development of the weaving process from the first people in the valley to the present day, uniquely blends the perspectives of art, design, business, history, ethnic studies and cultural anthropology. While the textiles are the centerpiece of the film, it highlights the life around the production that creates a sense of connection to the culture, the community, the past and the future. 

The weaver’s work is filled with color and textures from dyes and yarns. The meditative movement of the spinning wheel and swift work of the weaver's expert hands show a rhythm of motion at the loom that has been going on without interruption for centuries. The workroom is filled with the clack of the looms, the noise of the chickens in the yard, and the voices of the weavers as they speak with pride of their work. Photos can capture an instant. Written words can describe the scene and pass on tremendous amounts of information, but only through movement, color and sound can one really communicate the experience of the process, their connection to their culture and the beauty of their extraordinary textiles.

Chapters of Woven Lives:

Introduction / Introducción
Historical Perspective: The Zapotec Artisans in Oaxaca 

Colored by Nature / Coloreado por la naturaleza
Natural Dyeing with Native Plants, Minerals & Insects - Santa Ana del Valle 
Cultivating the World’s Most Brilliant Red Dye: La Grana Cochinilla Cochineal Farm, Santa María Coyotepec

Reds and Riches / Rojos y ricos
Pre-Hispanic Weaving: Backstrap Loom - Santo Tomas Jalieza

Playing the Strings /Tocando los hills

Silken Threads / Hilos de seda
The Little-known Art of Silk Weaving in Mexico: San Pedro Cajonos 
The Colorful Silk of the Bienhi Cooperative of the Village of San Miguel Cajonos 

Weaving a Culture / Tejiendo una cultura
Rug Weaving: The Extraordinary Textiles of Teotitlán del Valle 

Flying Shuttles / Chicotes
Rapid Fire Fly Shuttle Weaving for Small Scale Production - Mitla 

Building the Future / Construyendo el Futuro
Planning for the Future: Weaving Traditions of Oaxaca Embrace a Global Community

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Carolyn Kallenborn works with fabric and metal to create flowing garments and sculptural pieces. She shows her award-winning, hand painted garments and sculptures in galleries and exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Her work has been shown in Beijing, China; Cheong-ju, Korea; the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona; Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana; and other shows and galleries in St. Louis, Chicago , Atlanta and Cambridge, Mass. In addition, her work has been featured in such magazines as Fiberarts, Surface Design Journal and Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot. She received her BA and MFA in Textile Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kallenborn taught textiles and design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before jointing the faculty at Kansas City Art Institute.

Carolyn is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Design Studies Department. She was an assistant professor in the Fiber Department at the Kansas City Art Institute from 2001 - 2007. Carolyn currently serves as the Coordinator for “Off The Grid” the 2009 Surface Design Association international textile conference. She was Conference Coordinator for “Uncovering the Surface” , SDA’s 2005 conference and was coordinator and juror for two major exhibitions for the SDA’s 2003 conference.

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"Great Film! This is a lovely film that gives you a peek into the lives of some very talented artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico. I took this film to Kazakhstan in April and with Carolyn's blessing showed it to my natural dyeing workshop participants. They loved it! It didn't matter that the film was in neither Russian nor Kazakh - textiles have a universal language. The film led to a very lively discussion about how could the weavers in Mexico be doing what looked to be Kazakh ornaments( motifs) in their carpets. They were excited to see the different styles of looms and were fascinated at how silk was spun up in the Sierra Norte. And they loved the sound track! This film is suitable for the enthusiast and expert alike, it is a fantastic teaching tool with close-ups, good explanations and you can really see what love the artisans have for their craft. Good Job Carolyn!” - Linda LaBelle (Brooklyn NY)

"Rave Review! Woven Lives is absolutely awesome! The information it gives on the weavings and the weavers of Oaxaca is both faithful to the subject matter and sensitive to the people and their stunning arts. I showed the video to the students in my "Mexican Arts and Cultures" class at the Kansas City Art Institute, and their reactions were very positive--there were audible "wows" and gasps during the showing; and afterwards it was clear that the students had not only enjoyed the video but also had learned from watching it. Woven Lives is a great supplement to classes that have to do with non-Western cultures and their crafts.”- Richard Anderson (Professor of Anthropology, Kansas City Art Institute)

"Woven Lives: A Feast for the Visual Senses.
This documentary film is a visual feast for the senses that takes us on a sensory journey across Oaxaca, Mexico. Here we meet the exemplars - the outstanding artists, artisans, and curators who are keeping the weaving traditions alive. This film captures sense of place, history, culture, and diversity. It creates a vital thread from past to future, linking the emotional and aesthetic work that goes into the creative process with the economic implications of survival for the art and the culture. Featured are extraordinary weavers who work on the two-harness floor loom, the back-strap loom, and use fly shuttle weaving. We learn about the process of cultivating, spinning and weaving silk. We understand the environmental and sustainable responsibility for using natural dyes, and the importance of finding world markets to sell so that the culture endures. The film features several of my favorite weavers: Federico Chavez Sosa, Erasto "Tito" Mendoza Ruiz, and Abigail Mendoza. It also includes commentary by my friends Eric Chavez Santiago, education director at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, and Janet Chavez Santiago, a linguist and weaver. There is so much that this 1:16:19 DVD film by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Carolyn Kallenborn covers in such a relatively short period. And you can choose to watch in English or in Spanish. We hear the Zapotec language spoken and how its revival is a way to sustain cultural traditions. We appreciate weaving as a community endeavor to support generational continuity. We learn how designs are created on the tapestry loom extrapolated from archeological stone carving. We see how the cochineal bug is cultivated on the prickly pear cactus and the chemical oxidation of indigo. To ground us, life in Oaxaca is interwoven throughout. We discover how American students can intern with Oaxaca weavers for cultural exchange. We realize that it takes 20 days to hand spin enough silk to make one shawl and five days to weave it. We come to value the time and energy it takes to work by hand -- to wash, card, spin, dye and weave a quality textile. Carolyn Kallenborn's in-depth film is ambitious, comprehensive, and compelling. It is a must-see for every lover of woven art, every student and teacher who is involved in the creative process, and all who want to know more about Oaxaca and its extraordinary textile traditions.” - Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.

 

 

 

 

 

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