FOLK ART

My practice focuses on elements of nature with historical significance. Working primarily in painting and drawing, my approach draws on creating unique, colourful and elaborate “Birds of Paradise” and wildlife scenes incorporating new forms of reinterpreting and expressing my culture within the local context and towards the outside.

I use amate paper, a bark hand-made paper that was used by Meso-American cultures to create manuscripts. I like to combine the ancient qualities of amate paper with modern materials and techniques such as acrylic. My work is fresh, natural, simple and imaginative which gives it a unique style to share my culture and wonderful artistry with the outside world.

ABOUT THE PAPER

Amate comes from the Nahuatl word amatl (paper). It was the most used paper by the Mesoamerican cultures. The Mayas called hunn (bark or book) and the Aztecs gave it the name amatl.

Both cultures wrote their codices in amate and there is archaeological evidence the Aztecs used it to decorate shrines, sacrifice places, gods sculptures and burials. When the Spaniards arrived, the amate crafting stopped everywhere except in an Otomi village located in Puebla State, Mexico. People from San Pablito Pahuatlan continued the crafting of amate paper for ceremonial uses like agricultural rituals.

The paper is created from the bark of the wild fig tree, the nettle tree and mulberry tree, each with a different tone of colour, ranging from coffee browns to silvery whites.

Men peel the bark from the trees and women make the paper. The bark is washed, boiled and laid in lines on a wooden board. The fibres are then beaten with a stone until they fuse together into a paste. The paste is moulded and left to dry in the sun.

Amate is a form of traditional hand-made Mexican paper with pre-Hispanic origins.

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Birds of Paradise by Evelyn Vargas

Acrylic on amate paper | 19.5 x 14.5cm | 2014

NATURALEZA VIVA BY EVELYN VARGAS

Acrylic on amate paper | 60 x 40cm | 2019

QUETZAL BY EVELYN VARGAS

Acrylic on amate paper | 60 x 40cm | 2020

TOTOMEJ BY EVELYN VARGAS

Acrylic on amate paper | 60 x 40cm | 2020