Puerto Rico has been characterized by having a rich legal or artisanal industry that has passed from generation to generation for the past centuries. However, In this modern age, some of these techniques with great cultural relevance could be in danger of spreading.
Part of this is the reason why the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP) created the series of short documentaries, “Artisanal Profiles”, which shows the legacy and professional development of eight Puerto Rican artisans with difficult technical works and significant cultural significance.
Each of these eight works, lasting from 7 to 10 minutes, are available through the ICP YouTube page. In an interview-style format, it reveals how they learned their craft technique, their creative process, what craft means to their lives, and the challenges and opportunities they see in the future of their work. Each short documentary takes place in the work space of the filmed craftswoman or craftsman, intertwining the interview with images in which they are seen making a craft piece.
The series begins by presenting the profile of Dolores “Lola” Aponte, a spinner from San Juan who works textiles with a distaff and loom. Then they continue with Angel Manuel Diazfrom Camuy, a craftsman who works altars, altarpieces, pulpits and lecterns, among other church furniture.
For his part, Felix Cordero, from San Germán, is an artisan of traditional Elizabethan Creole furniture who builds sofas, chairs and armchairs that emerge from Spanish prototypes of the 18th and 19th centuries. The same way, Charlie Gonzalez de Bayamón makes beautiful vessels, basins and decorative pieces with wood with imperfections using the lathe.
Another of the short films shows Gloria Lopez Star, from Camuy, who is a carver of religious images and also restores wooden furniture. Besides that there is the recording of Guadalupe Villalobosfrom Ciales, which comes from an artisan family dedicated to the manufacture of enea furniture (native wood sofas, chairs and armchairs made with cane seats and backs).
For its part, the story of Norma Gomezwho is an artisan from Sabana Grande who works the weaving of petate , which are decorative figures woven by hand, hats and vejigante masks, as well as that of Aladdin Munizwho is an artisan from San Germán recognized for his basketry work with vegetable fiber.
The artisan techniques documented in the series communicate important elements of Puerto Rico’s cultural heritage and its historical development, offering the public a glimpse into the historical development of our nation.