This is part of a unique Creative Conversations series on contemporary art, design, and culture in Mexico.
Luvia Lazo sees people from her Zapotec community—a culture that originated in Mexico’s Oaxacan region—depicted through the prism of an outsider far too often. Her art aims to bring her local woman’s perspective to the table. In her current series “Kanitlow,” Lazo covered her subjects’ faces while spotlighting cultural characteristics on the verge of extinction, such as local flora or traditional clothing or hairdo.
Carlos Betancourt, a multimedia artist born in Puerto Rico and currently residing in Miami, is passionate about preserving Mexico’s cultural traditions, which he has visited on a regular basis for the past 35 years. He strung hundreds of hojalata (tin) charms—symbols of dedication, optimism, and healing, all handcrafted by Oaxacan artisans—for his latest public art piece, Milagros.
The artists spoke with Artnet News on the need (for local and non-local artists alike) to “keep it genuine,” as Betancourt puts it while paying homage to the country’s cultural heritage in their work.
What’s the backstory behind each of your creative career choices?
Lazo, Luvia (L.L.): I had no intention of working as a creative. I’m from a small community in Oaxaca, where the initial thought is to start manufacturing things to make money or to give yourself a chance at a better life.
I realised that photography was the finest option for me to do so. I’d want to provide another viewpoint from our Oaxacan community. I wanted to present us as we are; I wanted to have more candid and authentic images of my thoughts and feelings, especially as an indigenous woman.
I was getting a bit bored of seeing us as one entity all of the time. I wanted to delve a little further.
Carlos Betancourt (C.B.): I have the impression that [art] was predetermined—that it was decided long ago by someone else.
Since I was a child, I’ve always known I wanted to make stuff. My parents said I always had a pen and a pencil in hand; [I was always] drawing. I’m not sure if it was the culture surrounding me, but I always had a pen and a pencil in hand; [I was always] drawing. I just didn’t know which field I wanted to pursue.
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