Elena Gonzalez Ruiz is a master weaver from Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico. As a teenager, she accepted an invitation by Stuart Mace to represent her village at the Toklat Gallery. That was 1989. Since then, Elena has been a long-standing Artist-in-Residence at the Catto Center at Toklat, traveling back to the Castle Creek valley nearly every summer for over thirty years. The Magic of the Zapotec Hand is a cooperative Elena founded which helps support over fifty families in her village through sales at the Catto Center.
The Zapotecs of Teotitlan del Valle have been sustainably practicing the art of naturally dyeing and weaving sheep’s wool for centuries. ACES is proud to support this model for environmentally-responsible textile production and to support the traditions of this indigenous community. Elena contributes to ACES’ mission by providing educational opportunities related to traditional and environmentally-responsible textile production.
Through interactions with visitors at the Catto Center at Toklat and presenting daily Cochinilla Color Demonstrations, Elena teaches the art of weaving and dyeing as her indigenous community has sustainably practiced for generations in the Oaxacan region of Mexico. Elena’s community has successfully fostered a thriving textile industry while protecting and nourishing its natural resources, specifically its vast and critical watershed.
Elena fulfills critical environmental education roles at the Catto Center at Toklat. Additionally, Elena and her family generously donate 5% of Oaxacan weaving sales to ACES’ Summer Camp scholarship program.