Established in 2014, Galería MUY is an arts space located in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico dedicated to serving indigenous artists of Mayan and Zoque cultures.
We are proud to present the work of Manuel Guzmán and Maruch Méndez, among the most important artists in the Mayan contemporary art scene.
Maruch Méndez (Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico; 1957) is a traditional curer; which in her native Tsotsil is j’ilol, literally “seer” – and she shares her visions in her art. She chose an original path especially for a Mayan woman of her generation, choosing not to marry. In fact, Maruch lived entirely alone for several years, dwelling self-reliantly in the pine-and-oak forest of Highland Chiapas. There, she learned about the ominous powers of birds, which appears often in her painting.
When Maruch moved back to her hamlet of origin, K’atixtik, in the township of Chamula, she assumed the role of mother to six nieces and nephews, who otherwise would have been destitute. Since joining a women’s paper-making arts project in 1980, Maruch has pioneered non-traditional Indigenous art practices, and explored topics related to cosmology, human-animal and human-nature relations, and women’s roles in her Mayan culture.
Maruch Méndez has been featured in a number of important group shows in Mexico City's museums, including “Los Huecos del Agua” (roughly “Aquatic anti-matter”) in El Chopo, and “Matenar” in the National University Museum MUAC (2022) exploring alternative concepts of mothering. The GaleMUY has shown Méndez’ work at the Outsider Art Fair in Paris and New York in previous years.
Monolingual in Tsotsil and free-of-writing, Maruch Méndez is a living cultural hero as she is one of the most highly informed cosmological-historical storytellers in this important Mayan pueblo.
This work is inspired by a young woman, who every day took her sheep to graze.
One day, as usual, she took her sheep to graze, suddenly one of the males went very far to chase a sheep that was in heat, so she thought tomorrow I'll look for him. The next day she went to look for the sheep that got away and found it.
But on the way she ran into a man. He had always seen her herding her sheep. He sexually assaulted the woman, so when the man finished, she told him: I'm going to accuse you with my husband since I know your name and where you live. He took the woman's machete, killed her and dragged her to leave her sitting under a tree, her dog that accompanied her stayed there until after fifteen days they found her dead, because the buzzards were around there.
They never knew who had done it and there was no justice.
– Maruch Méndez
A woman could not give birth, so the midwives of the town met to share ideas, and among all of them they made the woman feel better.
They decided that it was important to get the tail of the armadillo, to make it into a tea together with the herb that appears in the painting to help the woman. They said that the armadillo eats the little white worms and is cold, but that the tail of the armadillo was good. And that way she was able to relieve herself.
When a woman successfully gives birth, the party is held, the pox [ritual cane liquor] is distributed and they come together with the midwives and relatives.
– Maruch Méndez
Manuel Guzmán (Tenejapa, Chiapas, Mexico; 1964) was born, and lives in a Tseltal Maya traditional community of some 50 families nestled in the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico.
Painting in the afternoon, after returning from work in the fields, he puts to the canvas representations of everyday life and cosmo-historic vision.
In 2003, when in Mexico City to work as a day-laborer, Manuel was knocked unconscious by a trolley bus. He lay near death for three months – experiencing visions he later painted – and is still somewhat aphasic, while as life-positive as is seen in his painting.
When asked about his works, he often and simply replies “I saw it” [in his dreams].