As a small, family-led non-profit organization, the Wixarika Research Center is fortunate to have the capacity to dedicate itself to a handful of important and long-running projects. We invite you to read a summary of each one of these projects below.
Website and Archive
One of the driving motivations that led Juan and Yvonne Negrín to establish the Wixárika Research Center in 2001, was the commitment to consolidate, digitize, and provide public access to more than four decades of material pertaining to Wixárika art, history, territory, and culture. In 2003 we launched our first online archive, and in September 2018, we launched a new website and archive on the Drupal 7 platform, capable of handling the large volume of historical documents from the personal archives, art collection, and library of our founding director, Juan Negrín. In March 2022, we began an upgrade to Drupal 9 and, in the process, we improved on the existing website and archive.
In November of 2023 we launched the present website and online archive, which serves as an important bilingual (English and Spanish) resource for students, educators, and scholars interested in Wixárika culture and territory. Aside from the Negrín archive, we also hope to incorporate the archives of other Wixárika and non-Wixárika scholars and, eventually, provide more Wixarika language content as well.
We believe it is important for the public to have access to information about Wixárika historical and contemporary issues given the often poorly researched or stereotypical information that exists on the internet about Wixarika culture. Of most importance, this online archive is directed for the Wixárika public, especially the younger generation of content creators and for a diversity of educators and students inside and out of Wixarika communal territories. Because this is a cumulative and ongoing project, we look forward to providing expanding access to historical and current materials that range from manuscripts, essays, photography, video, and the arts in general. We invite you to contact us if you would like to contribute material or content to this project.
Multimedia and Curatorial Work
Juan Negrín's dedication to Wixarika art, culture, and territory was catapulted by a small exhibit of yarn paintings organized by Franciscans in Zapopan in 1970. An artist himself, his intentional search for the most creative Wixarika yarn painters in Nayarit and Jalisco led him and his Wixarika compadres to create an unparalleled collection of yarn paintings. Over the span of the next two decades (1970-1990), ‘Uxa Yikaiye José Benitez Sánchez, Tutukila Tiburcio Carrillo Sandoval, Ketsetemahé Teukarieya Guadalupe González Ríos, Xitaima Lucía Lemus de la Cruz, Tauxi Mutuani Juan Ríos Martínez, and Yauxali Pablo Taizán de la Cruz would all create unique and remarkable works of art consisting of various dimensions and illustrating with brilliance the oral history that comprises Wixarika cosmogony. During this time, Juan and Yvonne Negrín curated a collection that includes audio recordings of the artists narrating more than one hundred works of art. Of note was Juan Negrín’s subsequent laborious work of transcribing and editing these recordings to provide explanations for a great majority of the paintings in the collection.
As a testament to his dedication to Wixarika arts, in 1976 Juan Negrín established a non-profit foundation in Guadalajara, Jalisco dedicated to sacred and traditional Wixarika art with a board of directors made up exclusively of Wixarika mara'akate (chanters and spiritual authorities). With the support of Cultural Survival, this effort led to the creation of more than one hundred stone sculptures (tepari and memute) that depict our many collective ancestors.
Despite the brilliance of the yarn paintings, textiles and sculptural works, hierarchies within the art world have continuously minimized the ability for Indigenous artists to find support and visibility beyond folk arts markets. These exclusions led Negrín to promote Wixarika artists by curating a series of groundbreaking exhibits in the late 1970s through the 1992 in Mexico, Europe and the United States. Further, Negrín helped find a network of allies that generously showcased Wixarika yarn paintings in galleries in order for the artists to be able to sell their work at a higher value than in the traditional tourist markets of Tepic, Puerto Vallarta, and elsewhere.
Shortly before Juan's death in 2015, the Musée d’Arts Africains, Océaniens et Amérindiens in Marseilles, France, held the first exhibit of our yarn paintings in many years, accompanied by a catalogue with French explanations to these masterworks. In homage to Juan's work, in 2017, his daughter Diana Negrín curated a collection of photographs at the Museo de la Alhóndiga in Guanajuato as part of the annual Festival Internacional Cervantino. And, in 2019, we were able to coordinate the first large scale exhibit in thirty years at the Museo Cabañas in Guadalajara and through it, publish a major trilingual catalogue, Grandes maestros del arte wixárika, edited by Diana Negrín and co-published by the Wixarika Research Center, the Secretary of Culture of Jalisco, and Casa Wilmot. This exhibit continues to be available for touring as do individual paintings in the collection, the catalogue is available for purchase in our online store.
Finally, we also have had the pleasure to work with audiovisual materials. In the spring of 2018, we were contacted by Diana Fried who had produced a 27-minute documentary film on the carpentry and weaving workshops in the sierras that were funded and carried out by Juan Negrín through his foundation ADESMO. She has donated all her raw footage, the master audio and video tapes of her film, cassette tapes of interviews, color slides, and files. In addition to this, since 2021 Diana Negrín and Angel Urrutia have been working on a film project tracing the defense of sacred Wixarika land. With the Wixarika Research Center's online archive, we will be expanding our multimedia offerings on Wixarika art. Behind the scenes this means continuing to digitize our archival holdings and those that are gifted to us.
As the Negrín's gained more proximity with Wixarika families and communities, Juan became increasingly involved in advocating for their territorial rights. Starting in 1974, the Negríns became actively involved in non-profit work on behalf of the Wixárika people and co-founded two important non-profit organizations in Guadalajara. The first organization, AICAW (Asociación para la Investigación, Capacitación y Asistencia Wixárika was founded to provide housing, a balanced diet, and medical assistance to Wixaritari with serious illnesses who needed to be treated in hospitals or clinics outside of the Western Sierra Madre. AICAW has remained active for almost 50 years under the leadership of Rocío Echevarría. The second organization, ADESMO (Asociación para el Desarrollo Ecológico de la Sierra Madre Occidental), was dedicated to the advocacy of Wixárika land rights through locally driven ecological and sustainable development projects. ADESMO sought and secured funding for the development of carpentry and weaving workshops to provide work within the heartland of Wixárika territory, helping stem migration to the coastal tobacco fields where the Wixárika people were exposed to dangerous pesticides and hostile work conditions.
Our foundation continues to help design and implement environmentally sustainable projects in coordination with the Wixárika communities when requested and if petitioned by consensus at their general assemblies. In recent years, we have supported the construction of a new solar wood drying oven as part of the first stone for the now finished Tamatsi Páaritsika community high school in Nueva Colonia, in the community of Tuapurie, Santa Catarina Cuexcomatitlán. Since 2021, we have coordinated an important initiative in the sacred place of Wirikuta that promotes the development of projects that foment the participation and exchange of knowledge between two groups of people with the deepest history of this geography: the native small farmers and the Wixarika people. The activities that comprised the first phase will be carried out with the participation of local residents and small farmers, and with Wixarika university students specializing in agroforestry and natural resource management. We project that this model can also be implemented in the Wixárika communities in the Sierra Madre Occidental with few adjustments to better match the climatic context.
Subscribing to our newsletter is a good way to keep abreast of any new projects and current funding needs and will inform you of new things to look for on this website. We are a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit public foundation and rely on donations to support our continued work. We thank you for your support. ¡Pampariyutsi!
Scholarships for Wixarika Students
In 2018, in conjunction with the International Friendship Fund and the Proyecto de Educación Comunitaria / Rotary Club of Puerto Vallarta (VCEP), the Wixárika Research Center created a scholarship fund for Wixárika university students. The goal of the scholarship is to support undergraduate students with the different costs related to attending a university, such as school materials and books, food, housing and transport. Each year we are committed to supporting 20 students and since 2018, we have provided more than 40 scholarships to students across disciplines and universities.