The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This essay presents a dense description of the clothing of certain indigenous groups in Guatemala. The writer describes, as far as possible, the fabrics used in different garments in a country where "indigenous people are still of pure stock in many regions." The painter Carlos Mérida remarks on the fantastic motifs and the combination of colors in Guatemalan fabrics. He thinks the level of industrialization of the indigenous community is not high enough to cause an effect on them, since "their essential spirit is so deeply linked to the soul of the people that though they may change their means of expression, they will always be attuned to their own harmony, and feel their local roots."
The Mexico-based Guatemalan painter, Carlos Mérida (1891-1984), was at that time a member of the group of artists who were considered to be the “counter-current” to the Mexican School of Painting, notwithstanding the fact that he began his career as a muralist in the 1920s. By about 1942, Mérida was painting in a “surrealizing” style that owed much to Guatemalan and Mexican indigenous cultures. The idea of syphoning off and reusing aesthetic ideas from the works of “primitive” civilizations had crossed the minds of several other artists, such as Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974), who were seeking to create a particular avant-garde that would be identified as the post-revolutionary art movement. Mérida, unlike most of his colleagues, focused on the specific structure of the indigenous fabrics, which eventually led him to produce geometric abstractions.