This article is from Chain Link, Volume 11, Number 1, February / March 2002, published by the Crochet Guild of America.
Mexico with Dr. Carol Ventura, Associate Professor of Art
by Lana BennettAll decked out in my new, short version of the black, daytime "work" raincoat the Canon Rebel 2000, tucked in its case, I walked down the steps from the plane and to the terminal in Leon, Guanajuato, to meet Carol Ventura. It was March 8, 2001, International Women's Day and much too warm and dry for the coat.
As we drove out of Leon we moved onward to Guanajuato, Guanajuato, where Carol, after receiving the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, was teaching fiber arts at the historical University in Guanajuato.
On a typical morning Carol walked the concrete steps or "callejon" that zigzagged down the hill from the Saucedo Family compound where we were staying, to the valley floor of the old European style, narrow, cobble-stoned streets. The sidewalks were barely wide enough, in some places, to keep people separated from the paint-worn walls of the storefronts and the buses that zoomed past on the curvy streets.
That first day we walked this route stopping at the Plaza where booths were set up in celebration of "El Dia Internacional de la Mujer," (Women's Day). I was not only impressed by the educational booths, the number in attendance and participation of men, but all the women who were there to sell their crochet work. Carol and I were quickly purchasing doilies and runners. That night, we attended an art opening held at the Museo de Cervantes, for one of the local art professors. I remember feeling like I was on a movie set as we wound our way around to the Museum on the crowded, rustic, lantern-lit pathways. I would see more women on other days selling beautiful crocheted shawls and sweaters from shops we passed that evening.
On the following Monday, Carol's classes resumed after the University's Spring Break and the subject was Tapestry (Guatemalan) Crochet. Of course, Spanish was spoken. I was able to help some and it was amazing how quickly these women caught on to the technique and were creating small bags with cactus designs, ducks, and chevron patterns, all from their own drawings. Carol was impressive as she taught in Spanish as naturally as if it were her first language.
It was crochet that had lured me to Mexico. Carol was working on one of a series of crocheted icons that would be included in the sequel to her book, Tapestry Crochet. Interestingly, the icons were born from Carol's realization that Mary was as much Jesus' teacher, as a mother of any child. Thus, her intricate pieces incorporate biblical sayings attributed to Jesus but which depict Mary as teacher. Carol says that she loves crochet because of its mobility. I have no doubt that a non-crocheter would take one look at these latest works and imagine that hours were poured over some permanently placed loom or frame. We spent an afternoon posing Carol and her crochet in various photo settings. It was an afternoon to remember with the Saucedo grandchildren running about while we gazed over the City below in one direction, eyeing flat rooftops bearing geranium and begonia filled terra cotta, to the bare mountain tops in another.
To learn more about Carol's crochet books as well as her exciting array of projects in other media and on behalf of artists around the world, visit her web site: carolventura.com.
|Link to Carol Ventura's Tapestry Crochet Page|