Casa Pájaros: A Tz’utujil Story

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Casa Pájaros: A Tz’utujil Story features embroidered works by Don Antonio Ramírez Sosóf, who, through his colorful and symbolically rich scenes, tells the story of the Tz’utujil people in the town of Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. Casa Pájaros, or “the place of birds,” is a glimpse into one man’s personal story and a nation’s narrative.

Don Antonio R. Sosóf (1927–2014), like many self-taught artists, had a rich life story before he ever embarked on the artist’s journey. Originally a lumberjack by trade, Sosóf worked for more than thirty years in the scenic area around Lake Atitlán, until fighting between Guatemalan government forces and rebels forced him out of the forests and back home. There, he first built his reputation as an artisan by carving fanciful objects and figures that utilized the natural shapes of roots and branches. Although this brought him success, the rigors of working with wood eventually became too great for his aging body. He found himself at a crossroads and sought inspiration to show him a new creative direction.

Inspiration came for Sosóf in the form of a dream. One night, he dreamt of a picture, specifically an embroidered portrait of a woman wearing an embroidered huipil, the loose-fitting tunic worn by many women in Central America. This vision was a surprise to him because he was unfamiliar with the craft of embroidery. Determined to follow his vision and convinced he could do it, Sosóf picked up needle and thread and endeavored to teach himself everything about making an embroidered tapestry. Although he was uneducated on the process, he was no stranger to the form: the Lake Atitlán area is home to some of the richest textile traditions in the world, and embroidery there is a simple, adorning fact of everyday life.

For his subject matter, Sosóf drew inspiration from the world around him: spiritual figures and ceremonies mix with everyday scenes that reveal the reality of the Tz’utujil people living in a post-colonial setting. Combining imposed Catholic symbology with the pagan symbols of his Mayan heritage, Sosóf tells a story that is both contemporary and ancient. His efforts have not gone unnoticed; aided by local collectors who helped him sell his work to collectors the world over, Sosóf found even greater success in embroidery than he did with woodcarving. Later in life, with his eyesight failing, Sosóf passed his knowledge of the form to two grandsons, José Luis Ramírez and Pedro Pop Xeche, in order to engender a livelihood for future generations.

Curated by Israel Alejandro García García for Garcia Squared Contemporary, Casa Pájaros tours for the first time in the United States with fourteen original embroideries and process patterns, twenty-three high quality photographic reproductions, and several contextualizing objects from the Lake Atitlán area. In addition to the embroidered works, García has gathered regional tools that demonstrate the processes that are used to produce the embroidered works. All together, Casa Pájaros: A Tz’utujil Story presents a striking and original vision of an inspired artist who took tragic political circumstances and transformed them into a magical reality, one stitch at a time.

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Tour Schedule

Casa Pájaros: A Tz’utujil Story is touring September 2020 through August 2025. The dates below reflect seven-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact MoreArt@maaa.org or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.

Exhibition Details

14 original embroideries and process patterns, 23 high quality photographic reproductions, and several contextualizing objects

  • Content

    Fee Includes
    Press Kit
    Registrar’s Packet
    Programming Guide
    Gallery Guide
    Text Panels in English and Spanish
    Narrative Labels
    Full Insurance
    Installation Instructions
    Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Curated By

    Israel Alejandro García García for Garcia Squared Contemporary

  • Organized By

    ExhibitsUSA, Mid-America Arts Alliance

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee

    $5,450

  • In-Region Rental Fee

    $3,270

  • Duration

    7-week display

  • Shipping

    Van Line

  • Running Feet

    120 linear feet

  • Square Feet

    -

  • Security

    Moderate B

  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    4 crates/TBD

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.