Juana Hernández &
Modesta Martínez Martínez
Cross-stitch Embroidery on Unbleached Muslin
Juana Hernández and Modesta Martínez are Zapotec women from San Vicente Coatlán, Oaxaca, earning their living executing an embroidery technique called "puntos cruzados" (cross-stitch). The word embroidery comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for "edge", but the technique itself was being used long before that — as far back as sixth century BC.
Using their ancestral designs, both women create some of the most beautiful blouses the Feria has seen with their intricate embroidery. Grecas /frets and rombos /quadrangles symbolizing the universe, land and heaven are themes often used in their work.
It is impossible not to feel moved by the beauty of their work, the blend of colors, texture, and shape. To watch one of these gifted maestras move their fingers as they push the needle through the fabric is a work of art in its own right. The love for their work is obvious as they proudly carry on a family tradition that has gone on for generations before them.
Anyone who has traveled to México has been exposed to the abundant handicrafts and folk art created here. It's nearly impossible to resist bringing home one or two items; it's like bringing a bit of México back with you. But I don’t think I would be inaccurate in assuming that most of México’s visitors do not know very much about folk art. Most tourists do not realize that pottery they purchased may have been made in the same family for generations. Neither do they know it can take a month to embroider a tablecloth or bedspread. And, it’s almost certain they are unaware that the woman who embroidered the piece they believe is priced “too high” may give up her art because she cannot get a “fair” price for her work.