“Every piece is a story,” Maruja tells me. She is the founder of Maruja Barbachano Galería on Calle 60, and she speaks to me while I look at an awe-inspiring embroidery hanging on the wall behind her desk. Each garment has something different to communicate, a story to tell behind its iconography, this can be the background of its creators, or the environment they live in.
Maruja shares how her childhood, full of adventures around the country with her grandma Carmen and surrounded with enormous care from the Maya culture, has paved the way to turn this project into a love letter dedicated to this magic world.
I roam around the spacious gallery, with high ceilings and an energy that invites me to explore and take my time. On my path, I come across a vivid blue blouse which is gathered at the waist, one of their most popular creations since it perfectly portrays the merging of Maya culture and contemporary design.
The gallery combines garments from the Maya world in linen, cotton, and satin, that create unique clothing made for each client personally. For the most part, these pieces are made for women; however, designs for children and men are also available. Maruja mentions how these garments were dreamt up for the modern and original individual, one who has great care and admiration for the textile work done in México.
While I contemplate a dress adorned with chicken feathers, part of the gallery’s private collection, I learn that the most spectacular pieces are created for saints. According to Maya culture, the deities reincarnate and live amongst us. When you dress a saint, it is expected that the deity will come back to Earth and thus have something to wear. “Today, through iconography, architecture, pottery, and textiles we can start to put the pieces together of the history of pre-Columbian people,” Maruja explains while admiring one of the creations.
The gallery works with indigenous cooperatives and artisans in search of a way to represent the Maya people in a respectful way, praise their art, and have it reach the public. Indigenous Maya art has many stories to tell and walking along the halls of Maruja Barbachano Galería, that voice is heard loud and clear.
Editorial by Greta Garrett
Photography by Maruja Barbajano Galería
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