Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Coconut Leaves Weaver

The Coconut Leaves Weaver / 14ymedio Yosmany Mayeta Labrada

14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Havana, 11 August 2016 – For Misael
Gonzales, Old Havana is the gallery that for years has refused to
display his figures made from natural materials. All the passersby on
Teniente Rey Street between Oficios and Mercaderes, will see there his
grasshoppers made from coconut leaves and some Japanese-inspired
constructions of braided green fibers.

The artist tells 14ymedio that initially he made clay and ceramic
structures but with that raw material it became very complicated to get
permission to market his work. Nature saved him from those difficulties
and, although his business of figures made from natural leaves has not
been without setbacks, little by little he has made his business thrive.

"I was fined several times," says the artist, "but now I have
authorization from the Office of the City Historian to develop my craft
works here," he said, while his fingers agilely braided the wings of an
inspiring insect.

At 44, this Artemisa artist based in San Miguel del Padron has turned to
crafts looking to support himself. When he lived in his native province
he came to the capital every week with the pieces he had made "selling
them for prices between 1 and 5 CUCs," which still hold.

"I have been experimenting for seven years," explains Misael, and
describes some of the "spectacular" works that have never sold that he
treasures at home. "I feel comfortable making these pieces out of
natural materials and, in addition, I don't get into trouble with the
law," he stresses.

Every afternoon the artist positions himself near Los Frailes Inn in the
old city center to sell his sympathetic figures, most of which he
creates before the eyes of the buyers. Other pieces are on display for
"when someone is interested" and he then makes them on request in front
of his customers.

Onlookers surround him and Misael displays his skills with leaves
between his fingers. Sometimes a child approaches and is ecstatic with
the animals that emerge with each fold. Misael gives him a grasshopper
that seems about to take flight. He knows that many of these little
ones' families don't have the money to pay him.

"Being an artist is being born again," he says with the same wisdom
that, one day, led him to create wonders with materials that others discard.

Source: The Coconut Leaves Weaver / 14ymedio Yosmany Mayeta Labrada –
Translating Cuba -
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