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Josefina

Updated: Jan 15




Welcome to my new website!  I am very excited to be able to share my work with you, to offer opportunities to buy or commission work, and to let you know about exhibits and workshop opportunities. 

 

This blog will be a place to share my thoughts about art --with a particular focus on folk art, travel, collecting, and other musings.  It marks my shift into mosaic art as a career and my (still-unsteady) sense of myself as an artist.  Here goes…

 

One of my major fixations is folk art.  I have been collecting pieces from around the world over the last 30 plus years.  Many of my purchases are made during travels and provide a wonderful way to connect to local artisans and to learn about local culture.  But, I also “cheat” and buy art through eBay, Etsy, or wonderful folk-art stores such as Indigo Arts and the Eye Gallery in Philadelphia.  I love the colors and vibrance of these works as well as their often narrative or utilitarian function.  And they cost a lot less than “fine art.”  It is always a treat to discover a new type of art from a new place with a wonderful story to tell.

 

In the world of folk art, there is one person who reigns supreme.  Although most folk art is by unknown or unheralded artists, Josefina is unique.  Not only is her name familiar to many, but she is of the elite group of one-name artists (think “Prince,” “Beyonce” …) who does not require a surname.  Josefina Aquilar, as she is more formally known, is from a family of indigenous artists in Oaxaca, Mexico with a surprisingly dominant artistic gene.  Her two sisters and sons are also talented artists, working primarily in clay, but also in paint.  Josefina creates clay “dolls” (munecas) from the red clay in the Oaxacan countryside, with each figure unique and charming in its own way.  Subjects include people engaged in everyday village life, saints and religious figures, and “women of the night,” among others.  The figures are colorful and richly embellished with each one having a distinct character or personality.  Her work was “discovered” by Nelson Rockefeller (also a great folk art collector) and is displayed in the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, among other museums.  Josefina is even the subject of several children’s books!




 

I first discovered Josefina on a trip to Los Angeles 40 years ago right after college where I saw wonderful animal figure bells in the Mexican neighborhood which “spoke” to me and were my first folk art acquisitions, despite not having a real home or place to display them.  Many years later I visited Oaxaca and had the pleasure of meeting Josefina and several of her family members in her studio.  Josefina is now 79 years old with her eyesight failing from diabetes, but she continues to work in clay and is assisted by her family who help with painting the figures. 



My mother, also a lover of folk art (and a compulsive shopper/borderline hoarder) discovered Josefina at the same time that she learned to use her computer to access eBay and the trigger-finger enticing “Buy It Now” feature.   When it came time to move my mother to a senior residence, she had over 200 Josefina figurines which I carefully wrapped individually in bubble-wrap.  Later, these formed a significant part of my inheritance as my brothers declined offers to divvy up the collection. 

 

To this day, my Josefina collection “sparks joy” whenever I take time to look at individual pieces, among my vast collection.  I have given friends and my daughter gifts of Josefina figures

and love to see their appreciation of this unique and wonderful artist.  Should you wish your own Josefina, sculptures are available on eBay and Etsy as well as on the websites for the Eyes Gallery and the Indigo Arts Gallery, both in Philadelphia. 

 

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