Master weaver Wence Martinez combines his Zapotec heritage with nearly fifty years of weaving experience to create contemporary tapestries from hand spun, hand dyed Churro wool. Tonal variations and graceful curves demonstrate Wence’s innate color skills and technical prowess. Wence can often be found working at his loom on either his own geometric designs or Sandra’s symbolist imagery.
My life at the loom combines the weaving heritage of my birthplace, Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, with my formal training in Mexico City. I spent my childhood roaming local mountains, shepherding, and developing a love for the natural world. Tonal variations inherent to undyed wool and desert landscapes continue to fascinate me today.
While immersed in tribal patterns of my Zapotec culture, I began training as a weaver at age nine with my father and grandfather. Five years later a scholarship allowed me to study weaving in Mexico City under Bertha and Pedro Preux at Taller Nacional de Tapiz. There, I embraced weaving as fine art and learned Gobelins, natural and aniline dyeing techniques.
Using traditional looms and Oaxacan hand spun wool, I work to elevate basic materials and ancient processes. My own pattern-driven geometric designs investigate pattern and color beyond Zapotec tradition. When I work with my wife Sandra to translate her Symbolist paintings into weavings, we collaborate to enhance color and compositional detail.
One of my greatest joys as a steward of my village’s legacy is mentoring the next generation of weavers in Teotitlán. Through the Legacy Project I offer my apprentices a platform to grow and develop their expertise and artistry. To participate in establishing their careers is an exciting way to express my gratitude for opportunities I received throughout my life.
To view Wence’s resume, click here.
While drawing from his cultural heritage and formal training, Wence weaves exclusively on handmade looms from Teotitlán.
His academic foundation in Mexico City included hand dyeing practices and Gobelins weaving techniques. He continues to use them today to achieve complex and subtle color gradations in painterly ways.
Wence travels into a neighboring Oaxacan mountain village to purchase hand spun Churro wool directly from the same spinners his family has known for generations.
Wence’s color range incorporates both dyed and undyed wool. His natural dyes include indigo, lichen, pecan, cochineal, Pericón, pomegranate and goldenrod, and his use of aniline dyes broadens his palette.