Exploring Zapotec Wool-Dyeing Techniques


May 18, 2019, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm


Peabody Museum, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Grinding cochineal insects by Nicole Esteres
Grinding cochineal insects by Nicole Esteres

Instructor: Porfirio Gutiérrez

This Saturday workshop is full. This program is full. Please email pmae-ed@hmsc.harvard.edu to be added to the wait list.

In this one-day workshop, master dyer and textile artist Porfirio Gutiérrez will discuss the history and uses of cochineal dye from the perspective of the Zapotecs from Oaxaca, Mexico, who have used the pigment since pre-Columbian times. Native to Central and South America, cochineal is an insect (Dactylopius coccus) that produces a vibrant red dye that has influenced cultures and artistic practices throughout the world since it was first discovered in Mexico and exported to Europe in the 16th century. Mr. Gutiérrez will demonstrate how to prepare cochineal dye and will guide workshop participants in dyeing their individual wool scarves with both cochineal and pericón, a wild marigold indigenous to Mexico, used to obtain a beautiful bright yellow dye.

Porfirio Gutiérrez was born and raised in the Zapotec textile community of Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico where he began to weave when he was 12 years old. His early training in traditional Zapotec designs forms the foundation for his fine art textiles that are now in demand by museums and private collectors. The story of his art has been told in publications such as the New York Times and videos broadcast on PBS, as well as a documentary funded by the Smithsonian Institution. In 2015 Gutiérrez was selected by the Smithsonian Institution to be one of only four artists in the Western hemisphere to participate in their prestigious Artist Leadership Program. A selection of the Gutiérrez family dye materials was documented and added to the Harvard Art Museums’ Forbes Pigment Collection, the world-renowned archive of artist materials. His vision is to educate and share the rich textile arts of his culture while sustaining traditional practices for future generations.

All Levels Workshop; no previous experience is required. All supplies for dyeing are included. Each participant will receive a wool scarf to dye and take home. Please note that lunch is not included in the fee. A lunch break will take place from noon–1:00 pm.
Advance registration required. Registration closes Wednesday, May 15.
Fee: $80 Members / $100 Non-members

See the related May 21 Preserving Zapotec Weaving Practices public lecture.