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They invite in Xalapa to the Workshop of Popular Art, culture, self-employment and tradition

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Xalapa, Ver.- To promote and strengthen community cultural development, since 2015 the Popular Art Workshop (TAP) opened its doors to train people interested in ancestral knowledge within the disciplines of pottery, wood carving, goldsmithing and the handling of cardboard and papier-mâché.

The TAP has a constructed space of almost 500 square meters that houses an esplanade, three didactic classrooms, seven workshops, a pottery kiln, restrooms, green areas, stairs and ramps to serve people of all ages.

Transform materials from the outside and people from the inside

Octavio López Zaragoza, owner of the wood carving workshop, has been working at TAP since 2015, when it was founded, and since then he has shown many people how to turn a piece of wood into a traditional carnival mask.

Originally from Coyolillo, Veracruz, the teacher teaches what is behind these masks, the tradition that supports years of work within the original cultures of the region, but also has the purpose of generating employment, that people learn a trade that can represent an extra income.

He explains that within the tradition there are masks of the devil, bull, goat, old man, etc., so that the new craftsman can choose what he wants to become, figuratively. “It is about teaching how to make the mask, but also knowing everything that is behind it. The mask is the transformation of the person.

This workshop is taught to people ages 12 and up. It is free and the necessary material and tools are available.

Jeanet García Sánchez, a specialist in cardboard and papier-mâché, details that in his course they learn techniques for managing wiring, making paste, and recycling materials to make traditional masks, decorative figures such as piggy banks or Catrinas, and even piñatas.

He says that although the course focuses on cultural tradition, the skills gained can be applied to develop whatever the person prefers to earn income that improves their quality of life.

In the goldsmith workshop, led by teacher Becí Chávez Razo, you learn to work with copper as the best metal to get started in this activity and gain knowledge with the intention of developing skills for self-employment.

With several years of experience, the teacher explains that goldsmithing is the art of transforming metals, a task that in Mexico dates back to pre-Hispanic times, with the Mexica being one of the first civilizations to create gold and silver alloys.

He affirms that the classes taught here focus on the elaboration of ornamental figures of silver, copper and aluminum, and jewelry produced through techniques such as red-hot forging, fretwork, embossing, chiselling and casting of metals, especially the aluminium, a material that has a low melting point for its formation in plaster molds.

She explains that the workshop encourages recycling by working with aluminum sheets obtained from soda cans and some tools based on common nails.

"In addition to making the different pieces, what we do here is discover the talent that exists in each of the students."

Leveraging local talent to exhibit and trade

Mayra Janeth Grajales Zavaleta is a graphic artist, tattoo artist and sculptor with experience in making epoxy plasticine pieces, which she took advantage of living near the workshop to expand her knowledge and skills.

Between June and December 2021, she took a few hours a day to attend pottery classes at the TAP, where she perfected the techniques that she already knew to make clay figures that today will be part of some exhibitions organized by the Directorate of Culture. of the townhall.

"I want to thank the municipal authority for making a space like this available to citizens so that they have the opportunity to explore their creativity for free."

She explains that it is a well-equipped building for people to experience artistic activities at accessible times and with teachers who are experts in their areas: "It is a satisfaction that generates many situations that bring joy to those who work and participate."

She believes that participating in activities like the ones offered here is a way to escape the daily grind and work on mental and emotional health.

"In my first approach I learned about clay, a material that was new to me, but I hope that in a second course I can make pieces for sale, as an extra income."

Making ancestral knowledge available to anyone

In the pottery workshop, headed by the master with 27 years of experience, Héctor Alarcón Gómez, people can learn everything about the process of working with clay, from its transformation into a malleable mass, to its configuration as a tool or ornament, and the kiln firing that will make it a durable final piece.

"This is an art with more than 300 years of history in the Chiltoyac congregation that people can get to know to understand what it means to be an artist."

The teacher clarifies that this workshop can be reached without any knowledge, since the objective is to teach this activity from the beginning and awaken the skills that each person has.

For this reason, he thanks the City Council for offering a suitable space like this to transmit ancestral knowledge and traditions to whoever wants it. For this, quality equipment is available, such as the industrial oven that is used to finish a piece of clay with or without the application of enamels, by firing at 600 to 650 degrees Celsius.

The TAP is located at number 11 El Rosal street, Higueras neighborhood. It was built with the support of the Public Spaces Recovery Program and federal funds delivered through the National Council for Culture and the Arts (Conaculta). At this time it offers workshops on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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