I was born in Teotitlán del Valle in 1963, one of seven brothers and sisters. In my village, from the time we are babies, we grow up with wool and weaving. We play with scraps of wool, we play at carding and with the spinning wheel, and we play with the pedals of the loom. Like my siblings, I learned to weave from my father, who actually was more a carpenter than a weaver, because at that time it was hard to support a family of seven children by making rugs. He only made simple designs that could be woven quickly.
I really enjoyed weaving, and I wanted to learn more. So in 1976, when I was 13, my uncle Emiliano Mendoza, who was a well-known weaver, invited me to join his family workshop. There I began to weave more intricate traditional designs, designs from Mexican codices, and reproductions of paintings by famous Mexican artists.
In 1989, after 11 years with my uncle, I moved to my cousin Arnulfo Mendoza‘s workshop. Arnulfo is a well-known textile artist, and with him I learned to weave with fibers such as cotton and silk, to incorporate metallic threads, to dye with natural pigments as well as aniline dyes, and to weave geometric designs inspired by antique Saltillo serapes.
In 2006 I began working independently. I make and sell my own traditionally themed rugs and wall hangings, incorporating prehispanic geometric design elements in my own way. I weave commissioned pieces for the contemporary American artist and designer Lisa Cicotte. Last year I was honored when the famed Mexican-American singer Lila Downs commissioned me to weave several pieces for her to wear in her public performances.
This past summer I participated in the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, NM, and the World Art Market at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, Canada, representing my village and my country. In Vancouver I won second place in the Basketry/Textiles/Beadwork category. Both experiences gave me an opportunity to show my work to a wider audience than I could previously.
I am also one of the subjects in the film “Woven Lives: Contemporary Textiles from Ancient Oaxaca Traditions” by Carolyn Kallenborn, which will be released to the public soon.
I am now one of the selected finalists in the VI International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art in the AIR large format category. The piece will be on display at The Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum in Mexico City from May 26 to July 22, 2011.