Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Benefit for Oaxaca's MAMAZ Collective

By pure chance, I heard that my colleague Claudia Zapata was the curator of "El Maíz Es Nuestra Vida/ Maize Is Our Life," a traveling art exhibit that features art from women concerned about Mexico's native maize seeds. This exhibit was created by Oaxaca's MAMAZ Collect­ive (Mujeres Artistas y el Maíz), a nonprofit women's arts organization that strives to raise awareness about our environment and our native seeds through art, food, and culture. Concerns about the fact that many varieties of maize are in danger of extinction due to the arrival of genetically modified seeds, as well as the GM seeds' effect on cultural memory and biodiversity, are at the heart of the exhibit and of MAMAZ's mission. If you missed the exhibit during its recent time in Austin, you'll be able to catch it in San Antonio in the fall. In the meantime, you can help MAMAZ's various initiatives, including "El Maíz Es Nuestra Vida," by attending the fundraising dinner at El Sol y la Luna this Monday. What better way to emphasize the importance of biodiversity than through our foodstuffs?

The evening's highlight will be the authentic five-course menu by guest chef Pilar Cabrera, executive chef and co-owner of the highly acclaimed downtown Oaxacan restaurant La Olla and La Casa de los Sabores cooking school. Cabrera, of indigenous Zapotec heritage, learned the basics and many secrets of the Oaxacan kitchen from her maternal grandmother. She has a degree in food sciences and nutrition from a university in Mexico City and worked for three years in research and development for the food giant Herdez prior to embarking upon her career as a chef. Her belief in slow food, the use of organic meats and produce, and a holistic approach to her work have earned her the respect of many – including celebrity chef Rick Bayless, who sends his staff to Oaxaca to learn from Cabrera at Casa de los Sabores – and features in publications such as Bon Appétit and The New York Times.

To complement her celebration-of-corn menu, there will be a cash bar featuring Mexican beer and El Sol y la Luna's signature margaritas. In addition, there will be door prizes and a raffle with items donated by women in the collective such as jewelry from Luisa Restrepo, a woven pillow from Lourdez Perez, cookbooks, foodie greeting cards by Austin's Blue Corn Press, MAMAZ market bags, and other unique items. MAMAZ will also have small graphics, bags, aprons, quilts, and tortilla cloth holders made by indigenous Oaxacan women for sale. Tickets are only $35 and are available at El Sol y la Luna, Tesoros Trading Company, and La Peña. Seating is limited, so you're encouraged to buy in advance. This is an amazing opportunity to sample cuisine from one of the gastronomic meccas of Mexico and contribute to a worthy cause at the same time

Friday, June 11, 2010

MAMAZ workshop in Austin

In conjunction with the Maiz es Nuestra Vida/Maize is our life exhibit, we members of the Mujeres Artistas y el Maiz (MAMAZ) collective offer workshops. Primarily, the workshops strive to raise awareness.

We discuss industrial food, its health hazards and the cultural significance of naturally grown food. The people of the United States, to a greater extent than those in other nations, are slowly losing their connection and the memory of food. The bodies and minds of younger generations no longer know what fresh eggs, chicken, ground beef or milk taste like. Some have grown up with fast food and junk food and consider its appearance, smell and taste “normal” and inevitable. They are unaware of alternatives. During the workshop, we provide them with some.

First we screen "The Story of STUFF” by Annie Leonard, “a 20-minunte web-film that explores the often hidden environmental and social consequences of the America’s love affair with its stuff.

Then, we ask participants to recall a family recipe of which they were fond as youths. These recipes usually include produce and meat that were produced in their community at the time, and can tell us a lot about locale and traditions, such as in what season the dish was prepared and for what occasion. In the past, food was part of our identity, and it continues to shape who we are. We consider what industrial food says about us now.

We also summarize the development of the food industry in México and the US over the last ten years. This helps emphasize the importance of traditional farming, saving native seeds and regaining back control of what we eat.

Workshops are for women of all ages and social backgrounds.

Friday, June 4, 2010

El Sol y La Luna hosts fundraising dinner

El Sol y La Luna hosts fundraising dinner for Oaxaca-based women organization focused on saving native maize seeds. MAMAZ Collective is a non-profit women’s arts organization that strives to raise awareness about our environment and our native seeds through art, food, and culture.

May 24, 2010 (Austin, TX) – What a better way to emphasize the importance of biodiversity than through our foodstuffs? This is the goal of the MAMAZ Collective (Mujeres Artistas y el Maiz/Women Artists and Maize) who brought the El Maiz es Nuestra Vida / Maize is Our Life exhibit to the Austin this spring. This traveling contemporary art exhibition features art from women who are concerned about Mexico’s native maize seeds, and through their artwork narrate the history of maize throughout the Americas, demonstrating its fundamental role in providing nourishment to innumerable societies. The fact that maize is in danger of extinction due to the arrival of genetically modified seeds and the global economy’s demand for maize for uses other than nutrition are alarming, as are their effect on cultural memory and biodiversity. This important, groundbreaking exhibit will travel to San Antonio in the fall.In order to help MAMAZ's various initiatives, including funding for El Maiz es Nuestra Vida / Maize is Our Life, El Sol y La Luna Restaurant (600 E 6th St. 444-7770) will host a fundraising dinner for on Monday, June 14th, 6-9 pm with proceeds benefiting MAMAZ outreach programs. The dinner's highlight is the authentic menu by guest Chef Pilar Cabrera, Executive Chef and co-owner of the highly acclaimed downtown Oaxaca's Restaurante La Olla and Casa de Los Sabores cooking school. Cabrera, of indigenous Zapotec heritage, learned the basics and many of the secrets of the Oaxacan cocina from her maternal grandmother, and has been featured in such prominent publications as Bon Appetit and The New York Times among many others. To compliment her menu there will be a cash bar, featuring Mexican beer and El Sol y La Luna's signature margaritas. In addition, a raffle will include items donated by the women in the collective such as a jewelry from Luisa Restrepo, woven pillow from Lourdez Perez, cookbooks, greeting cards by Austin's Blue Corn Press, t-shirts, MAMAZ market bags, and other unique items. MAMAZ will also have small graphics, bags, aprons, quilts and tortilla cloth holders, made by indigenous Oaxacan women, for sale. This is sure an opportunity not-to-be missed and it's all for a worthy cause. Tickets are only $35 (cash bar not included) and are for sale at El Sol y La Luna, Tesoros, and La Peña. 

About MAMAZ Collective
Headquartered in Oaxaca, Mexico, its members span across Mexico, United States and Canada. Members include artists, curators, cultural promoters, chefs, craftswomen, writers, and scientists, all working together to disseminate the mission statement. For more information or to join in their efforts, contact Marietta Bernstorff, Director of MAMAZ Collective: oaxmaiz@yahoo.com

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Quilt Workshop June 29, 2010

Dozens of unique creations emerged from last Saturday’s QUILT WORKSHOP in San Agustin, Etla. More than 30 women from different backgrounds united on that day to create one or more squares of a collaborative quilt that will represent the participants’ voices and those of all humanity. Each woman cut, sewed, and embroidered her personal interpretation of the corn issue, expressing her concern not only for her family and community, but also for the entire planet and all of us who inhabit it.

The gathering was a dynamic one with scraps of cloth and bits of conversation flying through the air. Some participants finished various squares while others continue to work diligently on the first, but all of hope to continue sewing and visiting next Saturday in Santo Tomas Jalietza pueblo. You are cordially invited.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Austin Show, through June 5

María García

Ana Gómez
" MON863"

Emilia Sandoval
"en el laboratorio"

In Mesoamerican myths, the origin of maize varies from tales of gods fashioning men out of cornmeal to a god’s transformation into an ant in order to find maize. Each tale outlines allegorical figures’ journeys and roles in the beginning and transformation of humanity with the aid of one of the most pivotal and culturally-significant foods in history: maize.

How has one plant pervaded the history of the Americas and continued to crucially affect an ongoing contemporary populace?

Marietta Bernstorff
"100 pesos para el Bicentenario"

María Ezcurra

Mariana Gullco
"Universo 1"

Scholar Matthew Looper suggests that due to the distinct male (the tassel) and female organs (ear and silks) of maize there is an androgynous nature to this plant that reverberates in its cultural reveration among specifically the Maya. However, maize’s mirroring of women’s fecundity and males’ dissemination is pertinent in the cyclical nature of all human reproduction, apart from a particular culture, and in extension exemplifies the essence of humanity’s continuation in the universe. The significance of this plant penetrated the visual, religious, and nutritional history of the America’s and continues to be relevant even in present day as an exemplary case of past conflicting with present.

Diana Mendietta
"Pozo petrolero"

Jessica González
"Raíz de nuestra cultura"

In Mexico, corn tortillas nearly doubled in price resulting in economic and dietary turmoil among many families in 2007. Due to the fact corn tortillas still remain a staple of the Mexican diet this monetary development affected the general Mexican public and particularly the poor. Marietta Bernstorff created and launched the initial Maize is Our Life exhibition with twenty-eight local women artists in Oaxaca, Mexico to address these current issues and to initiate a visual protest. The success of this collaboration evolved into more exhibitions in Mexico City, Cuba, Vancouver, and San Diego each with an individual curatorial vision but with the same central objective of artists exploring maize’s influence and magnitude in a visual capacity.

Margarita de la Peña
"A corazón abierto la sanación de nuestro maíz.
transgénicos no gracias"
María Santis Gómez

Minerva Hernández
"La danza de la fertilidad"

In this present exhibition, the artists I have selected offer a gamut of personalized interpretation. From attestant to storyteller, these artists interweave motifs such as sustenance, renewal, and rebirth juxtaposing the natural with the digital. Each piece identifies maize’s cyclical nature and addresses the characteristics of process and sequence in a declaration of environmental awareness. Although varying in iconographic message, this group of artistic voices creates an ongoing dialogue of education and appreciation for the seemingly omnipresent role of maize in our society.

-Claudia Zapata
Curator of Maize is Our Life –Austin, TX

Nadja Massun
"Ritual del maíz"

Sara Corestein
"Madre Maíz 2"

Christa Klickwort
"Péndulo de Maiz"

Ira Bernstorff
"Mzorcas de la costurera"

Maddalena Forcella

Adriana Calatayud
"Las mújeres de trenza"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quilt Workshop

May 29th from 9 to 2pm,
San Agustin, Etla, Oaxaca.
 Phone 521 3093

When women share thread and thought, great things happen. For centuries, women have united to sew quilts and talk about the issues of the day.  The slow rhythm of the stitching relaxes the body and frees the mind to reflect.  In this workshop, we will reflect upon the importance of corn in our lives.  Corn has played an important role in the history of our nutrition, culture and tradition.  Each participant will transfer her personal interpretation of the subject onto cloth.

No sewing experience is required.  We will discuss the basic techniques needed to create one square of a collaborative quilt.  The concept of the square is the most important aspect.

 We ask all participants to bring scissors and a sewing needle.  We also ask people to bring as much as the can of the following materials:

-any and all scrap fabrics (preferably with bright colors and natural fibers.  Used clothing is fine too).
-embroidery thread, buttons, lace and any other kind of notion you have on hand.
-a dish of your choice to share with the group.

To get an idea of numbers, we ask you to confirm your attendance in an email to oaxmaiz@yahoo.com.

Noel Chilton, Mary Jo Vath, and Mariana Gullco
 Mujeres Artistas y el Maíz

Friday, March 19, 2010

Artists selected for TEXAS

María Ezcurra

Sara Corenstein
. Mariana Gullco . Diana Mendieta . Emilia Sandoval . Mari Seder . Maria Santiz Gomez . Maria Garcia Ibañez . Liliana Wilson . Jessica Gonzalez . Yolanda Petrocelli . Adriana Calatayud . Marietta Bernstorff . Minerva Hernandez . Nadja Massun . Ana Gomez . Margarita de la pena . Maddalena Forcella . Maria Ezcurra . Christa Klinckwort . Ira Bernstorff

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Call for entries, deadline March 3 2010

For anyone interested:

The MAMAZ collective invites you to participate in the corn-themed exhibition in the Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin, Texas. This exhibit is different because the artwork changes, as does the curator. Hence, those who wish to participate must send proposals. You can propose a new work or one you have already exhibited. Please send your proposal according to the specifications in the call for entries to oaxmaiz@yahoo.com by March 3, 2010.

Curator: Claudia Elisa Zapata, curator and historian

Happy New Year from MAMAZ


Maddalena Forcella
Wool, natural dyes and cotton string
33" x 60"

Succesful day for MAMAZ

support team
As part of the fundraising activities aimed at maintaining and developing the collective, we celebrated December 5th with an elaborate corn-themed meal. The objective was to raise funds in order to establish the collective as a not-for-profit organization.

Renowned chefs Susana Trilling (who created the menu), Reyna Mendoza, Teresa Garcia, y Pilar Cabrera (from La Olla Restaurant) collaborated on this occasion and generously donated not only their talent, but also their ingredients. The incredible meal consisted of corn fungus empanadas, fresh corn tamales with poblano sauce, cornbread, corn pudding with passion fruit mezcal and corn ice cream among many other dishes. Needless to say, the lunch turned into a unique culinary experience with regional flavors interpreted by these ingenious chefs.

Martha Toledo 
The event took place at the Casa Colonial Bed and Breakfast thanks to the unwavering support from Jane Sax and Amado who also conceived the idea. More than 70 people attended the event, providing the money necessary for covering the next stage of the MAMAZ Collective—our principal objective for 2010 of achieving non-profit status.

A special thanks goes out to Roberta Neiman, Lynn O’Hare, Noel Chilton, Lauren Beam, Luisa Restrepo, Nadja Massun, Mari Olguin, Edith Morales, Marisela Flores, and Aurora Cabrera without whom the event wouldn’t have been the same. Thanks for your support and time! Martha Toledo, with her beautiful voice closed the event with a selection of unforgettable songs from the Isthmus region.

We also extend our gratitude to Hotel Bugambilias, la Olla Restaurant, and Amate Books.

Marietta Bernstorff