“When we think about the cultural context, especially in Mexico, we start looking at the spiritual connection with color. But for me, it is not only about the color, but instead, where the color comes from. And all the colors that you see on my weavings come from a living source.”

In This Episode
Jessie Mordine Young speaks with Porfirio Gutiérrez about his textile art and its connection to place, specifically to his homeland of Teotitlán del Valle. They also talk about his relationship with natural dye and color and how his practice is deeply rooted in ancestral knowledge.

Listen and follow on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher.

Download transcript here.

Porfirio Gutierrez is a California-based Zapotec textile artist and natural dyer, born and raised in the richly historic Zapotec textile community of Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico. He grew up immersed in color and surrounded by the wildness of Oaxaca’s mountains, and by the knowledge of plants for healing and for color. His life’s work has been revitalizing and preserving traditional Zapotec natural dye techniques with a focus on reinterpreting traditional textiles and materials to reflect his distinct creative vision.

Working in both Ventura, California, and Oaxaca, Gutíerrez’s art practice maintains his ancestors’ spiritual belief in nature as a living being, sacred and divine. His grounding in Zapotec traditional knowledge manifests in his textiles, reinterpreting the traditional weaving language, subverting and re-imagining the symbols and forms, morphing his textile designs toward the fractal forms and spaces of architecture, and the movement he sees in cities and urban environments.

Gutíerrez is a truly American artist, moving freely across the imposed borders between his two countries, as his ancestors and many other Indigenous peoples have done for thousands of years. His designs draw deeply on his experiences of two cultures, moving between the traditional and the modern, but always reliant on the deep knowledge and spiritual dimensions of his work.

Jessie Mordine Young is a Brooklyn-based artist who researches, writes about, curates, makes, and teaches textile art. She earned her MA from Bard Graduate Center in 2021. She works as an adjunct professor in the MFA Textiles Program and the School of Constructed Environments at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.


Porfirio Gutiérrez
BBC article: “The Man Preserving Endangered Colors”