Community of Women

Community of Women

A COMMUNITY OF WOMEN: My Mexican Studio Assistants

Upon hearing that I moved to Mexico to avert a financial disaster, a colleague said “Oh, we all thought you moved there so you could get studio help and work larger.” Well, it turns out she was right, but I didn’t know it at the time.

Although I have studios in Durham, NC and Chapala, Mexico, most of my production work takes place in Mexico. Due to the vast difference in pay scale, I can afford to employ a team of Mexican women to fabricate my feathers.

One team is a grandmother, mother and granddaughter who handle the fusing and print preparation. The other team is a mom and teenage daughter who assist Sandra, my full-time assistant with screen printing and cutting out feathers.

With the exception of cooking and cleaning, there are few employment opportunities here for women so it feels great to be able to help these families while producing the components I need for the large-scale work. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Over time, everyone has taken ownership of their part of the production making it more efficient and refined. I love the energy of our women’s atelier (taller in Spanish).  I’d love to hear about your experiences with studio assistants.

1 thought on “Community of Women

  1. Hello Deborah, I had one assistant, wh was herse;f a skilled weaver and had expereince as production weaver. All othrelationships with people who assited me began with a period of apprenticeship. I taught all aspects of my business, not segments of it. Apprentices started with zero or limited skills, they were able to assisr me never the less. They did not earn money at the outset of our relationship, but earned fair hourly wage, always well above minimum wage. Sometimes I hired a contract weavers and I would pay by the yard. That was in Northern California in the 1980. Today, in New England, where I specialize in Botanical Print Making, I have been assited for a short stint by a College student, who learned from me everything I could teach her. She received no money. Her native skills and ability to acquire new ones were remarkable. With one exception, my expereince with assistants was good to excellent. in that one case, a weaver I paid, took off with a bolt of fabric she had woven, and replaced it with a giant Black Onyx stone, weighing many pounds.

Leave a Comment