JEAN ANAYA MOYA | Straw Appliqué

Another artist who participates in the Los Maestros del Norte program, Jean Anaya Moya followed the example of her mother, who drew, painted, and worked in leather. Winner of the prestigious Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2014, Moya started as a traditional retablo carver and hide painter. But with so many other artists working in these categories, she decided to branch out. She expanded her repertoire by learning straw appliqué at a Museum of International Folk Art workshop in the 1990s. Her straw appliqué pictorials depict biblical stories. She “paints” scenes with what otherwise would be discarded from the harvest of wheat, rye, and oats. “Traditionally, artists used just natural straw that, as it aged, it would turn a golden color. About 15 years ago I started using dyed straw, using many colors, mostly on the neutral side. Occasionally I use a pop of red or another vibrant color,” she says. Adding dyed straw to her palette qualifies Moya as innovative — as do her creations that merge multiple categories. In her case, she adds straw appliqué touches to retablostyle panels, bultos, and relief carvings. She also assembles boxes, chests, and tabernacles using straw as accents, borders, or even saints’ clothing.

“I always want to learn and evolve my art forms, so I’m interested in working with other artists and their crafts. As I learn, I combine all the art forms to create new styles,” Moya says.

Carrying on the centuries-old tradition of straw appliqué is meaningful to her, in part because it was an art form that almost died out. She’s excited to see how it will evolve in future generations.

“Young people are so into technology, so to be able to show them how to go back to the very basics and create beauty, using basic materials, is important. They should know how simply people lived, yet they could go out into nature and select items that could make beautiful pieces.”

Moya adds, “With that said, I think what we’re creating now and what youth would like to create needs to evolve for their creative side. I can teach them techniques and the history of their ancestors, but we need to let them evolve into what they want to create using what we’ve given them and what they’ve learned in their own lives. The most important thing about innovation is evolution, or the art form will die out again.”

Summer is Santa Fe–based freelance writer Kelly Koepke’s favorite season in Santa Fe for the markets, opera, monsoons, and sunsets.






Santa Fe New Mexican