BORDERS explores the relationships and influences that Mexican and American craft artists have on each other. Artists, organizations and events featured include the Day of the Dead celebration, master altar builder Ofelia Esparza and Self Help Graphics & Art in Los Angeles; weaver J. Isaac Vásquez Garcia and family of Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico; American weaver Jim Bassler and potter Veralee Bassler; the colorful Guelaguetza parade in Los Angeles; and Chicago artist Kiff Slemmons who works with maestro Francisco Toledo at the Art Paper Workshop in Mexico. This episode confirms that art is without borders. It is a pathway for creativity and the connections that make us all human. PBS premiere September 29, 2017.
BORDERS explora las relaciones e influencias que los artesanos mexicanos y estadounidenses tienen entre sí. Artistas, organizaciones y eventos presentados incluyen la celebración del Día de los Muertos, la maestra constructora de altar Ofelia Esparza y Self Help Graphics & Art en Los Ángeles; tejedor J. Isaac Vásquez García y familia de Teotitlán del Valle, México; tejedor estadounidense Jim Bassler y alfarera Veralee Bassler; el colorido desfile de Guelaguetza en Los Ángeles; y artista de Chicago Kiff Slemmons que trabaja con el maestro Francisco Toledo en el Taller de Arte de Papel en México. Este episodio confirma que el arte no tiene fronteras. Es un camino para la creatividad y las conexiones que nos hacen a todos humanos. Estrenó por PBS el 29 de Septiembre de 2017.
Ofelia Esparza, educator and life-long artist, is an altarista, a master altar maker who teaches the meaning and history of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and the altars that commemorate loved ones who have passed away. She began this work in 1979 at Self Help Graphics & Art, Los Angeles, CA, alongside founder Sister Karen Boccalero. Ofelia’s strong commitment to keep Mexican tradition of Día de los Muertos alive in the US is visible in the heartfelt beauty of the community altars that she designs annually for the celebrations at Grand Park in Los Angeles.
J. Isaac Vásquez García, master weaver and dyer, the eldest living member of the one of the oldest weaving families in Teotitlán del Valle, México, pioneered the renaissance of using pre-Hispanic natural dyes on pure wool. Isaac’s three sons, five daughters and their families take great pride in keeping this tradition alive, despite the more time consuming and expensive nature of this methods when compared with the more modern use of chemical dyes and acrylic fiber. They perform all steps by hand, taking the raw material wool to finished rug carding, spinning, dyeing and weaving. Their design are drawn from both modern and ancient Zapotec sources.
Jim Bassler was introduced to the textile traditions at an early age from his father. The Cold War strategies gave him the opportunity to see the world and introduced him to the craft traditions of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The ethnic textiles that inspired him during his travels became the foundation for his work. His weavings also draw inspiration from pre-Columbian, Andean, and Mexican textile traditions. Ceramic artist Veralee Bassler first took clay in hand around the age of 15 in a favorite high school ceramics class. Several years later, she graduated from UCLA Art Department with a concentration in ceramics. Veralee then began a 25-year career of teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District and currently, with her husband, Jim, has chosen to live an intensely creative life.
Kiff Slemmons is an artist who creates sculptural jewelry in paper and metal. During a trip to Mexico, Slemmons saw the jewelry in Tomb 7 at Monte Albán and it sparked her interest in non-precious jewelry materials. Slemmon’s metal jewelry includes historical and literary references, using found objects, which she fabricates with metals. In 2000, Slemmons was invited by artist Francisco Toledo to work with Oaxacan artisans in Mexico to create and design paper jewelry using paper made from native plants at Taller Arte Papel Oaxaca. Previous to this, Slemmons had not worked in paper.
Francisco Toledo, known in Oaxaca as El Maestro, is regarded by many as Mexico’s most important and provocative living artist. He has been instrumental in building a series of highly successful public cultural institutions in Oaxaca, the city he calls home: the IAGO – a graphic arts museum and library; the MACO, a contemporary art museum; the Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo; the Francisco de Burgoa Library, a rare book library in the recently restored Convent of Santo Domingo; PRO-OAX, an environmental and cultural protection nonprofit organization; El Pochote, an art cinema; Taller de Arte Papel Oaxaca, began in 1998, in San Agustín, Etla, Oaxaca, using native fibers and renewable resources; and the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca, an ethnobotanical garden that tells the history of the co-evolution of the plants and people of Oaxaca – all with an eye of public education and preservation of the environment. Toledo feels he is fulfilling a duty to the future of the people of his country.
Executive Producer & Director CAROL SAUVION ∙ Executive Producer PATRICIA BISCHETTI ∙ Producer & Director ROSEY GUTHRIE ∙ Editor GILLIAN MCCARTHY ∙ Director of Photography SIDNEY LUBITSCH ∙ Music by LAURA KARPMAN ∙ Associate Producer DENISE KANG ∙ Senior Advisor JACOBA ATLAS ∙ Production Coordinator BEVERLY FELDMAN ∙ Production Controller JUDY J. HING ∙ Sound Recordists ANDRE RIVERA, ALAN BARKER, DEREK HANSON ∙ Assistant Camera ROBERT W. FAISON, DAVID JUNE, MICHAEL ASHE ∙ Gaffer MARK MARKLEY, PETER HORWITZ, TOM KLEDZINSKI, CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS ∙ Art Director ELIZABETH CLAFFEY ∙ Main Title Crew CAMERA CONTROL INC., KENNETH MARC, ALFREDO ROSADO, SIMON WAKLEY ∙ Assistant Editors ALEX DISHAL, TYLER WRIGHT ∙ Music Mixer NORA KROLL-ROSENBAUM ∙ Station Relations DE SHIELDS ASSOCIATES, INC. ∙ Colorist DEAN CHU ∙ Post Production Video LIGHT IRON ∙ Post Production Sound WILD WOODS ∙ Re-Recording Mixer JONATHAN IGLECIAS ∙ Archival Materials Courtesy of AGENCIA EL UNIVERSAL/ISMAEL GARCÍA/RCC (GDA VIA AP IMAGES), AMERICAN CRAFT COUNCIL LIBRARY & ARCHIVES, ARCHIVO DIGITAL MNA – FONDO FOTOGRÁFICO AHMNA, JIM AND VERALEE BASSLER, JUDITH BRONOWSKI, PHOTOGRAPHER TIMOTHY STREET-PORTER, © 2017 EAMES OFFICE, LLC, TRINE ELLITSGAARD, OFELIA ESPARZA, HORST P. HORST / CONDE NAST COLLECTION / GETTY IMAGES, GLOBAL IMAGEWORKS, LLC, MILLER HOUSE AND GARDEN, COLUMBUS, INDIANA. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE INDIANAPOLIS MUSEUM OF ART, GRACIELA ITURBIDE, RICHARD BOUDREAUX, COPYRIGHT 2002, LOS ANGELES TIMES. REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION., REED JOHNSON, COPYRIGHT 2003, LOS ANGELES TIMES. REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION., NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART, CHICAGO, IL, SAM AND ALFREDA MALOOF FOUNDATION, SECRETARIA DE CULTURA.-INAH.-MEX; REPRODUCTION AUTHORIZED BY THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ANTHROPOLOGY AND HISTORY, SELF HELP GRAPHICS & ART, ROD SLEMMONS, MICHAEL TROPEA, DEPARTMENT OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, DAVIDSON LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA, J. ISAAC VASQUEZ GARCIA ∙ Special Thanks RAQUEL AGUIÑAGA-MARTINEZ, ROSANNA ESPARZA AHRENS, BERENICE CASTELLANOS, DENISE ESPARZA, JEFFREY MEYER TURNTABLES, JOSÉ A. JARQUÍN, KATTEN MUCHIN ROSENMAN LLP, SANDRA AND WENCE MARTINEZ, CHRISTINE AND BRUCE METRO, JANE MILOSCH, SIMONE OLIVA, ORNAMENT MAGAZINE, ISAI PAZOS, STEVEN POSTER, NOAH REITMAN, RACHAEL REITMAN, REBECCA SIVE, KIFF SLEMMONS, ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE SCHOOL ∙ IN MEMORY OF LLOYD COTSEN ∙ This program was produced by Craft in America, Inc. which is solely responsible for its content. © 2016 CRAFT IN AMERICA All Rights Reserved