Miguel Angel, Artisan – Maker Profile
It’s not every trip that I meet rad people that become my instant BFF, but somehow the 5th World Tour has been all about instant connections. We had such an awesome experience with our first Airbnb booking for our Brazil sourcing trip, it seemed like a no brainer to go the same route for our Mexico trip.
The manager of the apartment building where we booked a room, Maggie, was born in Wales. She’s spent the last 20 years in Mexico and is super knowledgeable about Oaxaca and its culture, connected to the city and its people. Lucky for me, Maggie made time to hang and show me around.
Maggie introduced us to Miguel. A master artisan who’s worked with metal for the last 58 years, Miguel learned his craft from his father and has passed it down to his children and grandchildren. Four generations have been cranking out amazing art made out of tin, from simple ornaments to super-ornate sculptures.
Miguel’s work has been featured all over Mexico, the United States, and Europe. He designed and built doorframes for the National Palace in Mexico City, won an endless number of prizes and awards (he’s most proud of the nine he’s won in Oaxaca), and his work is featured in a Francis Ford Coppola movie. Just like we hunt far and deep for office supplies, Coppola does the same when hunting down props for his movies. Coppola visited Miguel’s home and purchased pieces from his older collection.
A BIG thank you to Miguel for answering our questions and crankin’ out the liptastic tin ornaments for the STMT X Mexico Kit!
1 - First, the basics: pencil or pen, ruled sheets or grid?
Pencil. Blank Sheets.
2 - What’s your favorite Mexican food to grub on? Mexican drink to sip?
Food? Anything Oaxacan.
Mezcal. I like artisanal mezcal. Before I used to drink mezcal that my wife made but after she passed away I now go into the Sierra Norte and buy direct from families that make their own mezcal.
3 - Describe the Oaxacan art scene in three words.
Excellent. Total. Very colorful.
4 - It seems like a lot of the art in Oaxaca is politically charged. Do you think so?
No, the art isn’t political. True artists never get involved in politics. Artist shouldn’t get involved in politics because politics should be separate. Good artists pass down their tradition and craft to their family. It is hereditary.
5 - What’s the one thing everyone should experience in Oaxaca?
So many things. The food, Monte Albán, pyramids, architecture in the city center… so many things.
6 - You have a jet all fueled up and ready for your own personal World Tour. Where you headed?
Holland. Because of its nature. It looks very green with lots of trees. Maybe Australia? Maybe India because of Gandhi. I’ve been invited to India four times to create a frame for a Gandhi piece. I didn’t go because if I go with all my tools then the people who work here don’t have any tools to work with. I told them to pay me to make tools for them but they didn’t want my tools, they wanted me to create the frame in India.
I was also invited to Egypt to be part of a very big exhibition. They offered to pay everything, my food, my stand for the exhibition, but they planned to sell my work very expensive. I don’t agree with that. I want my work to be more democratic. I would rather sell 20 pieces instead of one. I had some pieces in an exhibit in Chicago and in several cities in Europe. I was always invited to go but I never went. A true artist won’t go out of the country. They stay within their country and create for the people.