The indigenous Maya people, who inhabit the area of Southern Mexico and northern Central America, have a distinguished, centuries-long tradition of creating vibrant textiles. Women produce most of these woven materials. The creative labor is a means of economic sustenance, of advocating for their human and civil rights often in opposition to patriarchal conventions, and of advancing their wellbeing as mothers, breadwinners, and artists.
USC alumna Marie Plakos ’70 is a photographer, sociologist, and educator with a longtime interest in documenting the work and lives of the women artists in the Mexican state of Chiapas. On view here is a selection of her photographs along with textiles and transcripts of her interviews with the artists. The transcripts create a small but essential space for the voices of Maya women to speak alongside their work. Additional items from the libraries’ collections trace some of the artistic heritage of the Maya people.