The place, people, and ideals from which we draw our identity is our community. A strong connection to community is what inspires us to help others and resolve problems.

The Santuario at Chimayó, New Mexico.

Irvin at his loom.

The Matachines dance, performed at Alcalde, New Mexico, only ten miles from Chimayó.

Irvin Trujillo stands at his loom while his wife, Lisa, and son, Adam, look on.

Irvin Trujillo was born in 1955 in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He now lives in Chimayó with his wife, Lisa, and his children, Adam and Emily. Chimayó is famous for its Santuario, a chapel that many believe has the power to work miracles and heal the sick. Weaving is a tradition in Irvin's family. He is proud that he is a seventh-generation master weaver and can trace the tradition back to his great, great, great, great grandfather, the first known member of the Trujillo family to learn to weave the colorful textiles that Irvin creates today.

He was introduced to weaving by his father, Jake Trujillo, who encouraged him to add his own innovations to traditional blanket designs. By the time Irvin was in his twenties, he was a master weaver like his father. Both created weavings of exceptional quality and beauty that have roots in the Río Grande weaving tradition. Together they ran a weaving business and helped make Chimayó a renowned weaving center.

Irvin's wife, Lisa, is also a weaver. Unlike her husband, she learned the skill only as an adult. Born in San Diego, she moved to Los Alamos when she was thirteen. Although Irvin and Lisa use traditional Saltillo designs, they have developed a unique approach. Their innovative tapestries sometimes tell personal stories and are considered fine art.

When Irvin was a child, his parents took him to the Chimayó town square to watch the Matachines dance, an event that was popular in several of New Mexico's Hispanic communities. The dance-drama is performed around Christmas or in some villages on the feast day of the patron saint. Accompanied by fiddlers and guitarists, the dancers include La Malinche, the Mexican Indian who represents good; El Toro, the bull who represents evil; El Monarca or Moctezuma, the Aztec king; and Abuelos, the grandfathers who keep order. Dancers wear headdresses similar to a bishop's miter with ribbon streamers.

Years later Irvin researched this mysterious dance. He then created Buscando La Malinche, which depicts how a dancer may have looked two-hundred years ago. The Matachines dance is also performed by Tewa Pueblo Indians, and a different version is performed in south Texas towns. For some people the dance represents the triumph of Christianity over the Aztec religion, for others, the battle between the Christians and the Moors. There are as many different interpretations of the dance as there are communities that perform it.

Buscando La Malinche, Irvin Trujillo
©1986 Irvin L.Trujillo
Collection of the artist.

Badge of Honor
Storefront site of Badge of Honor, 33 Broadway, Newark, NJ 1995

In 1975, Pepón Osorio moved from Puerto Rico to the Bronx, New York, to continue his education. After finishing a master's degree in sociology, he worked as a social worker in the Puerto Rican community and also began to explore his African heritage.

He is not interested in speaking to a community, but seeks to involve the community in the process of creating art. He addresses the concerns of the people and makes them his own. He feels it is important to present private lives clearly and honestly, without relying on sentimentality or avoiding difficult issues such as incarceration, divided families, honesty, and dreams.

Badge of Honor was commissioned by the Newark Museum and was initially exhibited in the heart of a predominantly Latino section of the city. It is a tribute to the bonds formed by families and a poignant look at the myriad societal forces that can erect walls between family members. The world of a father, suggested by the prison cell, is juxtaposed with the world of his son, a bedroom encrusted with the material possessions of a teenager's wildest dreams. Laser-disk players project images of the two men onto the walls of their respective environments. The artist obtained their help for his artwork through social service groups. Because face-to-face conversation between the two men was impossible, he transported video equipment and a monitor back and forth between the prison and the home to record questions and answers, which he later edited. Although the mother is absent, her influence is clearly felt; both father and son refer to her with great respect. Reflecting the realities of many contemporary households, the unseen woman holds the family together.

 
Badge of Honor
Son's room
 

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María and a student in front of For Love and Money.
© 1998 The Tampa Tribune
With Heart in Hand, 1994

María Castagliola uses art as a collaborative community resource. By bringing attention to social issues such as domestic violence, homelessness, and civic duty, she improves the quality of life for many people. For Love and Money, commissioned by the Florida Gulf Coast Museum, was her first community collaboration. She explained the process:

I wanted to collaborate with another group . . . I wanted to open the door for other people’s thoughts. I wanted to collaborate and I decided that what I wanted to do was collaborate with someone that will learn from the collaboration. So I collaborated with the elementary school children of South Carolina.

She designed With Heart in Hand, a three-chambered corridor intended to draw attention to family violence and child abuse, to show children that a small contribution on their part can make a lot of difference in their community. Visitors to the sculpture were encouraged to take with them one of the 15,000 colorful hearts made by students at seventy-five participating elementary and middle schools.

Note: The quote is taken from interviews with María Castagliola by Andrew Connors in June and July 1995.

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