When I was a young boy, I roamed the mountains as a shepherd for my family’s sheep. It was on these journeys that I deepened my love for the natural world. I was and remain drawn to the tonal variations in the sheep’s wool, the patterns in eroded rock formations, mosses and lichens on the giant boulders dotting the area, and colors in old and new adobe structures of the village. Since age nine, I have spent my life at the loom, immersed in the tribal patterns of my Zapotec culture, which I carry into my own geometric compositions. I am honored to be part of the weaving heritage of my birthplace, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico.
For me, weaving represents a connection to the natural world and our shared, simple humanness. Through weaving, I am able to elevate basic materials and ancient processes into elegant, contemporary geometric patterns. When I work with my wife, Sandra, to weave her symbolic designs, we collaborate on adding variations of color and details to the composition. I love watching people respond to our textiles: I see their desire to reconnect with nature through touch, alongside discovering respect for resources, labor, and functionality.
My passion for maintaining the use of traditional looms and hand-spun wools while incorporating more elaborate dyeing and weaving techniques was instilled in me by strong mentors from my studies at the renowned Taller Nacional de Tapiz (National Tapestry School) in Mexico City. Mentoring my daughter, MaLena, and son-in-law, Jacobo Martinez, as they weave our Legacy Project designs under my direction allows me to guide and support them while deepening my resolve to be a good steward of my village’s legacy.
Wence (Wenceslao) Martinez