Past Program

Mexico: Color, Mestizaje & Design Futures

Students in this course will be introduced to Oaxaca and its biodiverse environs as home to a radical mixture of cultures and ethnicities: Zapotec, Mixtec, and a host of other indigenous communities; mestizos, or those with mixed Spanish and indigenous heritage; as well as the historically under-recognized AfroMexican communities.

Led by Kate Irvin (Curator, Costumes & Textiles, RISD Museum)


Wintersession Travel Course
  • Oaxaca, Mexico
Winter 2020

Course Dates: Jan 4, 2020 — Jan 27, 2020

Open to RISD students, Brown University students

Minimum 2.5 GPA required. Open to first year students with approval from the Dean of EFS.

  • Indigenous Futures
  • Material Culture
  • Natural Dyes
  • Landscape
Program Partners

Centro de Arte de San Agustín (CaSa), Oax-i-fornia

Academic Credits
  • Textiles
Course Numbers
  • TEXT-1020

Includes accommodation, field trips, local transportation, some group meals, museum entrances, health and travel insurance. Airfare not included.

Mexico: Color, Mestizaje & Design Futures
Oaxaca, Mexico 2020
Mexico: Color, Mestizaje & Design Futures
Oaxaca, Mexico 2020
Mexico: Color, Mestizaje & Design Futures
Oaxaca, Mexico 2020

About this Travel Course

This course will explore the region’s internationally regarded textiles, ceramics, and cuisine, as well as to the complex practices of using plants, insects, and shellfish as dyes and colorants. With an understanding in place of the rich foundation of ancient, precolonial techniques and material culture, students will experience the vibrant postcolonial culture of contemporary artistic practice that has been fueled by political activism, self-determination, and local artistic support and patronage. They will see and respond to the ways in which centuries of social inequities brought about by Spanish colonial subordination are being addressed and repaired through the reclamation of artisanal expertise and through the social reach of activist graphic arts messaging.

Students in this studio course will directly engage with Oaxaca’s bio-diverse environment and radically vibrant cultural, social, and artistic mestizo history by focusing on materials and colorants that have moved from ancient use to colonial appropriation to indigenous repossession, including cotton, agave, feather, cochineal, and indigo. Via special lectures and workshops at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca and immersive collaborative workshops organized by Oax-i-fornia and co-led by visiting artist Christina Kim, students will learn how contemporary indigenous makers use traditional techniques and applications of color to address and repair centuries of social inequities brought about by Spanish colonial subordination.

Apply to a Wintersession Travel Course

The application for Wintersession Travel Courses 2024 is now closed.

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