Idaho’s Mexican Consulate brings sacred art to Ming Studios

The art of José Benítez Sánchez, an artist and shaman of the Huichol Indians, is mind-blowingly beautiful. At the latest exhibit at Ming Studios, an international artist residency and gallery in Boise, it just takes a few moments to get lost in one of these intensely colorful yarn paintings that evoke imagery of mythological animals and deities as well as sacred land, sea and sky.

The traveling exhibit from Mexico, “People Walking in Search of Sunrise,” celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Idaho-Jalisco Sister State relationship that connects the two states through trade and tourism. Idaho has similar relationships with Shanxi and Taiwan provinces in China and ChungCheongBuk-do Province in South Korea.

Mexican Consul Celso Humberto Delgado Ramirez and Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little opened the Boise exhibit of the late artist’s work at a private reception March 9.

The exhibit opens to the public on Thursday, March 10, and runs through Friday, April 15. Ming Studios is at 420 S. 6th St. in Downtown Boise.

After its Idaho stop, the exhibit will continue its tour of Mexican consulates in the U.S. and Europe.

Idaho’s Mexican Consulate puts an emphasis on exchanges of art and music that represent the best of Mexican culture, seeking to foster a deeper understanding of Idaho’s Mexican-American population.

“People Walking in Search of Sunrise” tells of the remote and secluded land where the Huichol Indians live in western Mexico. In addition to the exhibit’s colorful paintings, you’ll also find ceremonial masks, examples of tradition costume and other cultural artifacts.

Sánchez’s yarn paintings are widely regarded as one of the best examples of this style and technique honed by Huichol, (pronounced who-ee-chul), shamans since the 1950s and ’60s. An artist paints wax on wood, then presses brightly colored strands of yarn into the piece to create bold and intricate patterns. These paintings depict sacred visions of Huichol shamans, especially those inspired by peyote. The shamans believe they can heal themselves and their world through communication with deities and their ancestors.

Sánchez, who was from Jalisco’s remote Sierra Madre Occidental region, died in 2009.

“People Walking in Search of Sunrise”

Opening reception: 3 to 9 p.m., Thursday, March 10, Ming Studios, 420 S. 6th St., Boise. The exhibit will remain up through April 15.