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News from Michoacán

candelabras Herlinda Purepecha Santa Fe la Laguna sin plomo

Greetings from Mexico!

I want to tell you some good news and share an experience I had yesterday. You might remember me asking for your help in 2021 when I learned that one of our artisan friends, Herlinda Morales was diagnosed with breast cancer. A crowdfunding campaign was created to help pay her medical expenses and I am so grateful to those of you who were able to help.

I will always remember Herlinda recounting her struggle to assert herself, to learn more and to create and sell her art-- while going against her traditional Purepecha father and husband. And I often share her explanation of why, for the health of her family and community, she chose to never again use glazes containing lead on her clay pieces. In addition to continuing the traditional art of her village of Santa Fe de la Laguna, Herlinda had set up her home workshop to be a space for adults and children to learn. The last time I took a tour group there, I was amazed to see that she’s not only a talented artist and a kind and generous woman, but is a natural born teacher as well.

I heard that Herlinda was doing well, but still not working. We’ve spoken a few times, but I hadn’t been able to see her since her illness. Well, yesterday we surprised Herlinda, showing up at her door —while she was working. She’s cancer-free and has been busy making pieces to exhibit at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. She will not be going to the U.S. however, because her visa was taken away a few years ago when she applied for a visa for her daughter Ieskani. Her parents had both passed away and there was no longer anyone to care for her daughter when she needed to travel. Her husband wasn’t much of a father, and Herlinda told me that he later completely abandoned her and their daughter when he learned of the cancer. That’s the bad news. 

 But the girl you see in the photo above is now 19 years old and is working as an artisan alongside her mother, and the beautiful candelabra below was made by her! Seeing her grown up and hearing that she is also continuing her studies (she wants to be a psychologist) gives me so much joy. Herlinda told me that her daughter dropped out of school in order to care for her, but now they are both determined to have her continue her education. We talked about one day bringing them both to California so they can exhibit their beautiful art. It was a good day, one that makes me happy doing what I’m doing.

 



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