Embroidery by Gaudencia Lopez. Photo: J. Carrillo/ACTA

Gaudencia Lopez

Oaxacan Cambalache Embroidery

Open-work embroidery textiles

Gaudencia Lopez + Francisco Gomez Padilla, Reedley

Site visit with 2019 Apprenticeship pair Guadencia Lopez and her apprentice Francisco Gomez Padilla (who is also Guadencia’s husband). Shot by Julián Antonio Carrillo on September 29, 2019

Apprentice Francisco Gomez Padilla will learn the art of Cambalache, a kind of open-work embroidery, from his wife, master artist Gaudencia Lopez.

Master artist Gaudencia Lopez Lopez, originally from the state of Oaxaca, works with her husband Francisco Gomez Padilla on cambalache or deshilado, open embroidery, in the tradition of Oaxacan villages. Both are of Zapotec descent and speak their native tongue as well as Spanish fluently, and are learning English. Both are from the same town. It was in their town in Mexico where they met and where Gaudencia began to learn deshilado, amongst other traditional types of weaving at a young age. Embroidery and weaving are part of the local economy in their town, but as they explained, it is very poorly compensated. Moreover, the intermediaries that connect village artists to the market profit oftentimes more than the artist. So this type of art was never Gaudencia’s main source of income. The couple migrated to California many years ago, and in this new context, Gaudencia picked up the art once more but more for personal fulfillment. She has been teaching Francisco deshilado and other techniques, and together they spend afternoons and weekends, when Francisco is not working in the fields, creating some of the work that ACTA documented. The apprenticeship allowed for Francisco to continue his path of learning and allowed them, together, to produce new works. In conversation, the couple expressed interest in selling and marketing their artwork.

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