One of the volunteer projects I am working on while I am in Mexico is taking photos of the work of Oaxacan folk artists and presenting the artisans with photos for a portfolio. Yesterday, I was super disappointed when I learned that the organization I am working with could not provide the number of albums I needed to return the work to the artisans.

I decided to head out to one of the villages this afternoon to present the photos (without the LBUMS) to five artist families. They were all delighted and didn’t seem to miss the container. In fact, one of the artists was overjoyed as he said that he no longer had two of the pieces pictured in the photos, but now he has the photo to show this design to future customers.

Two of the families insisted that I take an alebrije as a gift. When I insisted that the opportunity to meet them and get to know their work is enough for me, one man said, “This is the heart of our family; I want you to take it.” I couldn’t possibly reject the heart of an entire family, so I now have a chapuline (grasshopper).

While I was taking photos of the pieces, I often would turn my spare camera over to the family to take pictures of each other (I have shared some of these in the past). I was able to provide some photos for the families. This was even more special for the people than photos of their work. One man was particularly pleased that the photograph I provided him with in 8×10 format was of his two-year-old son Joseph busy with a stick of copal. We both agreed that the photo represented the future of the family business. The real heart.

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