Internationally-renowned Maskmaker Felipe Horta Tera Visits LAII

November 13, 2012

On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, internationally-renowned maskmaker Felipe Horta Tera visits the Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII) to present on "Máscaras de Michoacán" from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in the LAII conference room. Felipe will exhibit his masks as he discusses his artesanía, his work as a contemporary artist in the community and the marketplace, and the role that his masks play in the danzas of Michoacan. Masks will be available for sale afterward. The presentation will be in Spanish with English interpretation. Please see the event flyer for reference.

Felipe is a mask-maker, or mascarero, from Tocuaro, Michoacan, Mexico. He has dedicated himself since the age of 12 to producing masks for the pastorela (Shepherd's Tale) danzas, which are performed in his community and throughout Michoacan. Blending venerable allegory with symbols and scripts from popular culture, these dynamic performances that discuss and depict faith, sin, and salvation, also comment upon the joys and struggles of everyday life in contemporary Mexico. Felipe has introduced innovative, fine sculpting techniques into the thriving, vibrant art of mask making, and his exquisite masks are embraced and sought after by dancers and others in his community.

Pavel Shlossberg, a scholar who has conducted ethnographic research in Felipe's community and nearby regions, wrote an article "James Carey, the Devil and his Masks, Journalism and the Shepherd's Play in Michoacan, Mexico,"in which he describes how "pueblos all over Michoacan and through rural Mexico have their own particular fiesta days, and during these special, holy days, many members of the village community will celebrate communion together, and feast together, and also attend pastorela plays, or perhaps some other morality/mystery plays, which are performed during the fiesta each year." Pavel continues, observing that "in Tocuaro and in many other pueblos throughout Mexico skilled artisans...carve some diabolic masks and some saintly masks each year, and these artisans gift, and lend, and rent, and sell these masks to local dancers and to others as well." Felipe has long contributed to these productions, as he has been carving for most of his life, having learned the skill from his father, noted mask-maker Eustacio Horta Castillo, when he was young.

In addition to appearing in community celebrations in Michoacan, Felipe's work appears in theatrical productions and ballet folklorico. Museums and marketplaces throughout Mexico and in the US also exhibit his masks. He is annually invited to tour the US to participate in festivals and markets, and the LAII is thrilled that he will be adding Albuquerque to his list of US destinations this year. During his visit, he will not only present to the UNM campus community, but will also meet with local teachers and high school students to discuss his work with them. For more information about this K-12 opportunity, please see the event flyer for "Masks in Mexico," a hands-on maskmaking workshop created specifically for K-12 teachers. The workshop will be held in partnership with the National Hispanic Cultural Center and will take place from 5:00-8:00p.m. on Wednesday, November 14, 2012.