The Hands of Luvia is an intimate photographic project, following Luvia, a Zapotec woman from Teotitlán del Valle over two months at her home.
The project documents the creative process in her craft of weaving. Supported by En Vía, this project explores the idea of her primary creative tools – the hands. The hands are the essential tool for an artisan and lead the process of creation through the transformation of materials from the land to the final artwork. Luvia’s hands also represent the way she is a support for her family, a provider for her community and a contributor to the En Vía collective.
Luvia’s hands work with passion, integrity and patience – a love of her craft shining through in every step of her process.
Growing up in Teotitlán del Valle, Luvia would spend her afternoons learning to weave from her parents from the age of 11. The ancestral Zapotec techniques, learnt from a young age, play an integral role in Luvia’s designs and natural processes that she incorporates in her work. She is motivated by the traditional process and is passionate about teaching the next generation about preserving Zapotec culture through her craft.
When Luvia was 21, she partnered with En Vía to develop her own business that she runs with her husband Julian. Together, they developed a practice that centers around the sustainable production of rugs. Luvia has passed on her techniques to her two children, whom now have gained an appreciation for the processes and passion that goes into each piece.
Luvia and her husband use natural pigments to make the colors in their carpets. They primarily use natural materials for three colors; red, blue and yellow.
Cochineal, a small insect that feeds off cacti and produces a natural substance called carminic acid, produces red dye when crushed.
The Iachiote plant also produces red dye, the Indigofera plant produces the intense blue dye when extracted, while the yellow dye is made from the pericon plant, a native Mexican flower. Luvia grinds the natural pigments to make powder which she then uses to color the wool.
To give the wool different tones, Luvia warms water and stirs the crushed natural pigments, adding lemon juice as she goes. After the dyeing, the wool is cleaned with homemade natural soap and dried in the sun before being weaved into tapestries.
Luvia’s inspiration in her designs ties back to her Zapotec heritage, the pride for her culture beaming through in her art form. Her commitment to the longstanding process and her intricate knowledge of her craft is awe-inspiring to see. Her hands move intuitively through the process, working together with the natural materials to consistently pay homage to the roots of her family. In turn, the final products reveal a true sense of Teotitlán identity and local passion.