Strung under the portals of homes and across the narrow streets of Mexico’s villages, festive papel picado brighten up holidays and religious celebrations throughout the year. These decorative paper flags patterned with kaleidoscope cut-outs are a folk art craft that traces back to pre-Hispanic spiritual traditions of the Aztecs.
El Taller Arte Papel of Oaxaca is a paper-making cooperative founded in 1998 by Francisco Toledo. After refurbishing the former Hidroeléctrica La Soledad, a 19th century hydroelectric plant that once provided all of Oaxaca's electricity, Toledo set up the Taller in an effort to teach paper-making techniques to the locals and to provide work. Paper is made without contaminants using fibers and other natural ingredients that are renewable and available locally, like pochote, coyuchi, hemp, silk, linen, and mica. Artisans work every step of the process from start to finish: separating and cleaning fibers; making pulp; molding pulp on screens; extracting water by mechanical press; peeling sheets from drying trays; ironing individual tissues of paper; cutting out designs by hand; and stringing papeles into a banner.
Since 2002, Christina has been working with El Taller Arte Papel on limited edition products and special projects. In 2012, the artisans hand made over 500 papel picado, hand tinting them in a spectrum of blue -- 15 distinctive hues matched to photographs of skies and cloudscapes that Christina took while flying over Acapulco. “between the clouds” was installed at Santa Monica Museum of Art in July 2012.