ESTOFADO—Comes to Ajijic!

ESTOFADO—Comes to Ajijic!

By Mikel Miller

estofado11Ajijic resident Susanna Chavez Sánchez has a dream: to create an Estofado industry at Lake Chapala offering artistic and economic opportunity to villagers. Estofado, used by European Masters since the 15th Century, is the technique of applying gold leaf to three-dimensional sculptures—often religious figures.

“I was only six-years-old when my mother began teaching me Estofado. Of 10 children from my mother, I was the only one to learn this art,” she says. For the last 35 years—in Mexico, Europe and the USA—I have been dedicated to this ancient art,” she says. “Now I feel the strong need to pass on what I have learned to the next generation. I do not want the beauty of Estofado to be lost in our ever-changing world.”

In the fall of 2012 the Centro de Cultural de Axixic will offer workshops in Estofado taught by this remarkable artist. Proceeds from the classes will be used for an apprenticeship program to re-establish the nearly extinct craft and offer a viable career path in Estofado to the people of Ajijic. Please call 331-145-55-51 for more information.

Susanna was born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico by a Mexican mother and a New Mexican father. “Though I was not born in Mexico, I carry the seal of the Mexican craftsmanship in my blood,” she says. “When I was 16-years-old my greatest desire was to become an artist, and that is how I began my career at the Universidad de Arte de Guadalajara. I have always been most fascinated with the Architecture of Mexico—its patios, gardens, Cathedrals and Churches,” she continues.

After her studies at the University, she married a German industrialist and moved to Europe, where her daughter Maria was born, and she studied Estofado anew in Europe. After the marriage, she returned to her beloved Guadalajara to refine her artistic skills. Ten-years later she and Maria moved to Madrid, Spain, where she became a master in Estofado, Restoration, and Painting in El Centro de Estudios de Restauracion en Obras de Arte.

Unsatisfied with being the master of only one ancient art form, Susanna packed up Maria and studied Fresco at Il Laboratorio per Affresco di Vainella in Florence, Italy. After returning from Europe, they lived in the little village of Corrales, New Mexico, the homeland of her father. Susanna went into a prolific frenzy of fresco, Estofado and painting that included a large series to illustrate a book based on her 800-kilometer religious pilgrimage across northern Spain on El Camino de Santiago.

While working in New Mexico, she completed many important commission pieces for some of the largest Catholic churches in the southwestern United States. Some of her recent works are: Saint Thomas Aquinas, Padre Kino and Saint Teresa of Avila in Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Avondale, Arizona, and many others.

It was in New Mexico where she met a raspberry farmer who has become her soul mate. In the fall of 2011 they moved together to Ajijic, where they operate a small restaurant named La Una and are writing the story of their love.


For more information about Lake Chapala visit:

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