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Studying Traditional Weaving and Dyeing with Our Teacher Veronica Chavez in Teotitlan del Valle Integrating Multimodal Expressive Arts

Our teacher Veronica and wool dyed with natural dyestuffs
Our teacher Veronica and wool dyed with natural dyestuffs

El Colectivo Macondo spent two days studying with our teacher Veronica Chavez in Teotitlan del Vallle, one of the many small towns of traditional artists outside of the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. Veronica is a textile artist who follows the traditional Zapotec practices of weaving and fiber dyeing.

We worked in the family studio where Veronica, her father, sister, and three brothers all practice the textile arts in their home in the town of Teotitlan del Valle. The entire second floor of their home is dedicated to the work with 7 giant treadle looms and a traditional stove for creating a dye pot.

natural dye materials for fiber dying
natural dye materials for fiber dying

First, Veronica taught us about the natural materials she uses for dyeing wool and cotton. She uses alfalfa for green, cochineal for red, bougainvillea petals for purple, marigold petals for yellow, and indigo for blue. We learned about the alchemy of using other elements in the dyepot to shift the tones of the colors.

Washing wool before dying
Washing wool before dying

We created a dyepot of cochineal, made of the body of an insect that is a parasite of the nopal (cactus) plant. We learned that in order for cochineal to set, the dyepot must boil intensely and vigorously. As we worked, we talked about how the processes of the dyes and boiling the fiber in the dyepot could inform our Multimodal processes in our work with our clients.

On our second day in Teotitlan del Valle, Veronica taught us to weave on the treadle loom which was a powerful and embodied experience. Shifting the peddles using the feet created a force felt through the ankles, knees, hips and spine that I experienced as grounding. Working rhythmically shifting the pedals as I worked watching the “tapete” – the traditionally woven piece grow shifted my attention away from my day to day concerns or worries and I was drawn fully into the transformative process.

Preparing yarn to thread the bobbins for weaving
Preparing yarn to thread the bobbins for weaving

After we worked, we talked about how aspects of the dyeing and weaving practices included metaphors and components that will inform our Multimodal work with our clients and in our communities.

From El Colectivo Macondo:

Save these dates!! June 17, 18, and 19, 2017

Join us in Oaxaca to learn from traditional Zapotec artist teachers while integrating their craft practices with Multimodal Processes:
Traditional Weaving and Dyeing Intensive in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico:
Day Two: Veronica will teach us about the natural materials used to create the colors used in the traditional practice of weaving Tapetes (traditional rugs) such as indigo, cochineal, alfalfa, and marigold petals. We will practice the alchemy of shifting and transforming the colors using traditional, natural, chemical processes and will create a dye pot and dye yarn to take home for our own knitting, weaving, and crochet projects.
Day Three: Veronica will teach us weaving on a floor treadle loom and each of us will weave a small woven piece to hang on the wall or make into another object.
Day One: Our teacher Veronica Chavez will lead us as we hike in the majestic hills of her town, Teotitlan del Valle as we collect the natural materials we will use for dying organic yarn.
Throughout the workshop we will discuss and practice Multimodal processes inspired by our fiber work.
Cost: $250 for three days including materials and transportation to and from Teotitlan del Valle from our hotel. Each participant will dye approximately 2 lbs. of organic wool yarn to take home for projects.
For Expressive Arts students, you will earn 18 Multimodal contact hours.
Our hotel will be the Oaxaca Real, $46 per night double occupancy.
Please send a note or call with questions.

Wendy Phillips, Ph.D., LMFT, REAT, REACE
Visual Artist, Psychotherapist, Faculty Member
IEATA Registered Expressive Arts Therapist
IEATA Registered Expressive Arts Consultant Educator


Sunday Afternoon in Oaxaca

Sunday afternoon on Plaza Santo Domingo is always a lot of fun – as if all of the happenings there are a complex presentation of Performance Art. There are craftspeople who make and sell jewelry, wooden sculptures, rebozos (shawls) and huipiles (women’s traditional blouses) and much more displaying their wares on tables and in tents.

Often there are processions that include bands with musical instruments, shouts, and song. As I walked around the plaza, I noticed these public art presentations on the walls made by graphic artists. It looked like they were prepared as transfers that were applied to the cement surfaces.

Graphic Art Image Applied to wall
Graphic Art Image Applied to wall
Graphic Art Image Applied to Wall
Graphic Art Image Applied to Wall
Graphic Art Image Applied to Wall
Graphic Art Image Applied to Wall
Graphic Art Piece Applied to Wall
Graphic Art Piece Applied to Wall

On Sunday, there was also much dancing and celebration. I share it with you here:

Learn More About us and Our Programs:

My Month In Oaxaca

I will be in Oaxaca, Mexico from February 3 until March 1, 2017. It is my goal to post each day sharing the abundant forms of artistic Expression here. Today (after recovering from a long journey complicated by an emergency landing by our Delta jet in another Mexican state), I ventured out into Oaxaca City, a place where as a practicing artist, I feel very much at home. On my way to the market, I encountered the artists participating in the event, “Casa Grafica”. Artists from 12 collective  studios known a “talleres” and also 7 independent graphic artists joined forces to occupy a n historic two story building a few blocks from the Zocalo and install their work on its walls.

Artist Installs Work at "Casa Grafica" event in Oaxaca
Artist Installs Work at “Casa Grafica” event in Oaxaca

The event, created by La Comision (  took place over 2 days, on February 3rd and 4th. Works presented included prints on paper of varied sizes, posters, designs on hats and tee shirts, and book covers. Critiques of politics and culture informed and inspired the works. Experiencing “Casa Grafica” was a wonderful way to begin my month’s sojourn in Oaxaca!

Artist installs his work in the Casa Grafica event space
Artist installs his work in the Casa Grafica event space
Work by Yescka of Taller Glaeria Siquieros
Work by Yescka of Guerilla-Art.Mx

Learn more about us!!

Street Art in Cartagena, Columbia


Street Art in Centro Cartagena
Street Art in Centro Cartagena photo copyright Wendy Phillips

In September, 2016, I travelled to Cartagena, Columbia to participate in the South American Psychoanalytic Association Conference (FEPAL). When the conference ended, I stayed an extra week to explore. In conversations with local people, I learned about current concerns: the peace negotiation and signing of the peace agreement and also about work around identity in communities of African descent. Riding the bus, I saw huge photographs that were portraits of Columbians of African descent with the caption, “Negro es Lindo”.  (“Black is Beautiful”).

When I travel in Latin America, I like to experience the ritual of the Mass in diverse communities. My first Sunday in Cartagena, I was directed to a church in the Getsemani neighborhood. There I found a community enlaced with buildings covered by elaborate artistic expressions. I returned to the neighborhood several times to take the artistic Expressions in. Much of the imagery on buildings was about identity and representations of the Self. Other images seemed to spring forth from deep places in the imagination.Works were made with paint and even with collaged pieces attached to walls.

Here I share images of the Public Art in Getsemani:

Black Woman in Getsemani Photo copyright Wendy Phillips
Black Woman in Getsemani
Photo copyright Wendy Phillips
Door and Motorcycle Photo Copyright Wendy Phillips
Door and Motorcycle
Photo Copyright Wendy Phillips


Archetypal Man Photo Copyright Wendy Phillips
Archetypal Man
Photo Copyright Wendy Phillips



Feminine Profile Photo Copyright Wendy Phillips
Feminine Profile
Photo Copyright Wendy Phillips

Certificate Program in Foundational Theories of Multimodal Expressive Arts – Complete Program Online via Email and Skype

Traditional Shamanic Papel Picado: Museo del Arte Popular, Coyoacan, Mexico
Traditional Shamanic Papel Picado: Museo del Arte Popular, Coyoacan, Mexico

El Colectivo Macondo Expressive Arts Institute Announces a New Certificate Program in Multimodal Expressive Arts available by Distance Learning via email and Skype.

This program consists of three foundational Individualized Courses in Multimodal Expressive Arts and a Culminating Proposal Project.

Individually Designed Courses: We engage with the Expressive Arts Theory that informs our work with clients and in our communities in the form of Individually Designed Courses  online via Distance Learning format. Courses are planned by students in collaboration with teacher-mentors. Together they select relevant readings and other media resources and create objectives that meet the student’s needs related to personal and professional goals. Students meet regularly with their mentors during the course by phone, email, and Skype. Three Individually Designed Courses are required for the completion of the Certificate in Theories of Multimodal Expressive Arts:

  • 1) Multimodal Expressive Arts Theory and Personal Experience: Foundational Readings and How to Begin Your Personal Expressive Arts Practice,
Touch Drawings as Personal Practice
Touch Drawings as Personal Practice
body mapping as personal practice
body mapping as personal practice

In this course, you will read and discuss foundational theoretical readings and explore personal experiences of expressive processes in consultation with your mentor and create a final project.

  • 2) Multimodal Expressive Arts work with Groups. I this course you will study and discuss theories of Multimodal Expressive Arts Group Work and process. You will also learn about and discuss the ways Expressive work is accessed in practices, embedded in traditional cultures worldwide.
Expressive Arts Group Activity
Expressive Arts Group Activity

  • 3) Multimodal Expressive Arts in the Community and Social Justice. Students may elect to take additional Individually Designed Courses based on their personal and professional goals.
Installation of birds made of wood and vegetable fibers along pedestrian walkway in Oaxaca. A collaboration between an artist and his community
Installation of birds made of wood and vegetable fibers along pedestrian walkway in Oaxaca. A collaboration between an artist and his community

Culminating Project: Each student will create a proposal for a project in their home community with the goal of Integrating their Multimodal learning with their specific interests in working with particular populations and or addressing particular community problems.

Costs: “A La Carte” pricing. Students pay for component(s) in which she/he is actively participating.

Individually Designed Courses: $225 each. Each course lasts 3 months.

Culminating Proposal Project: $225. The Project Proposal will be created together

Monthly Mentoring Sessions: One hour per month at no charge for enrolled students. Otherwise, $25 per hour.

More information:

El Colectivo Macondo: Multimodal Expressive Art, Popular Culture, and Community in Mexico City

Marco and Wendy have been friends and collaborators in artmaking for many years. They have exhibited work together and worked together in the collective, Latin American Artists’ Circle, based in Atlanta. Their families are good friends. Both Wendy and Marco have been wanting to work, create, teach, and spend more creative time in Mexico.  With these intentions in mind, they formed El Colectivo Macondo. Their goal is to invite persons interested in the Multimodal Expressive Arts, Mexican Popular Art, Fine Art , and Mexican culture to join together in community to study and learn together in Mexico. Their first workshop will be held in Mexico City in July and August of 2015.


Image from invitation for Wendy and Marco's exhibition, "La Realidad y el Deseo" ("Reality and Desire") at Georgia State University in Atlanta
Image from invitation for Wendy and Marco’s exhibition, “La Realidad y el Deseo” (“Reality and Desire”) at Georgia State University in Atlanta


Marco y Wendy han sido amigos y colaboradores por mucho tiempo en la creación del arte. Los dos han exhibido y trabajado juntos en el colectivo, “Latin American Artist’ Circle”, con base en Atlanta. En nuestras familias se ha establecido una buena amistad, Wendy y Marco han tenido la idea de trabajar, crear, enseñar y pasar más tiempo desarrollando proyectos creativos en México. Con esas intenciones en mente, ellos formaron el Colectivo Macondo. El objetivo es invitar a las personas interesadas en las Artes Expresivas, Arte Popular Mexicano y cultura Mexicana a unirse a la comunidad de estudio y aprendizaje en México. El primer Taller será en la ciudad de México en julio y Agosto del 2015.

El Colectivo Macondo, who we are:

Our Colectivo Macondo is inspired by the imagined town of the same name from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Macondo symbolizes the entirety of Latin America, especially focusing on its cultural richness. Our objective is to introduce the students to the popular art of the different cultures of Latin America: the indigenous, the European, and the African. We will study the manifestations of culture in the arts, creative processes and techniques, ceremonies and rites, churches, markets, archaeological ruins, and culinary traditions all of which are fundamental aspects of their cultures. The name of our collective, Macondo refers to its work and purpose: the diffusion (via the arts) of the cultural richness of Latin America.

El nombre de nuestro Colectivo Macondo, tiene como inspiracion  el pueblo imaginario de la novela de Cien anos de Soledad del escritor Gabriel Gacia Marquez. Macondo  simboliza la unidad latinoamericana, se centra esencialmente en su riqueza cultural, nuesto objetivo es la intoduccion de los estudiantes al arte popular de las diferentes culturas en Latinoamerica, las indigenas, europeas y africanas . El curso estudiara  sus  manifestaciones culturales en las artes, los procesos creativos y tecnicas, , ritos y ceremonias, sus iglesias, mercados, piramides y tradiciones culinarias, estas   tradiciones  son parte  fundamental de su cultura. El nombre de nuestro colectivo Macondo  tiene como objetivo y proposito la difusion (via las artes) de la riqueza cultural en Latinoamerica.


Coming soon, the announcement of our Multimodal Expressive Arts Workshop in Mexico City Summer 2015

En el proximo blog, habra information de nuestro taller de las Artes Expresivas en la ciudad de Mexico en el verano de 2015

El Coronel pintura por Marco Razo El Coronel, pintura por Marco Razo
El Coronel pintura por Marco Razo
El Coronel, pintura por Marco Razo

Welcome to My Space

New Year’s day feels like a good time to begin this work. As I chose the name, I thought about the incredible experiences I have had making my work, sharing with others, learning, and teaching. I will begin with some of the places I went and programs I participated in during 2014.

An experience that was powerful and transformational for me was the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) regional conference in Antigua, Guatemala in February-March of last year. I was searching for ways to learn more about Multimodal Expressive Arts Practices and as Carl Jung might interpret the way I found the conference, by synchronicity I found the conference announcement on the IEATA webpage.

With just enough frequent flier miles in my bank, I registered for the conference and the pre-conference workshop. The pre-conference workshop that was composed of visits to locations outside of Antigua that were relevant and important to Expressive Arts practices. We first went to the ruins where a shaman from the Mayan community introduced us to rituals for blessing seeds before the planting season and also a ritual for cleansing. He taught us about the symbolism of the colors in the ritual and about ideas about relationships with other human beings, nature and Divinity. He offered a cleansing to all persons in the group who were experiencing illness or stress. The smoke from lighted tobacco cigars was the element of purification. Following the cleansing, the cigars were placed on the fire where they were allowed to continue burning, consuming negative energies.

Preparing for the Ritual
Preparing for the Ritual

Guatemala Ritual 3A

Cleansing and Purification
Cleansing and Purification
Ritual Fire
Ritual Fire


After the work with the shaman, we walked to the site of the adjacent ruins. Our guide explained to us the strategic significance of the placement of the structures as the indigenous people resisted the Spanish as well as architectural aspects that are related to metaphysics and ritual. For example, the narrow steps used to climb the structures were not designed to accommodate the small feet of the peoples of the region. Rather they assured that those who ascended would move sideways in an act of reverence to the gods. He introduced us to the Mayan calendar

and names of the days and the associated energies.  At the site of the ball court, we learned about how the game was played with a heavy rubber ball and that the games lasted for days sometimes ending in death for participants.  We learned that the course and movement of the game had metaphysical significance.

The experiences of the day remind me of the importance of ritual, and how the incorporation of ritual into Expressive Arts psychotherapy practices creates culturally relevant, meaningful therapeutic interventions.