Mary Watkins, Nuria Ciofalo, & Susan James, Core Faculty
Nierikas (pronounced Near-eeka) are traditional yarn paintings made by the Huichol people of Mexico. Living in remote mountain areas, they were never conquered or colonized and have maintained their traditional technologies and culture. Natural glue, made from tree resin and beeswax, is applied to a board, and yarn is pressed into it and left to harden. The designs and symbols on the Nierikas are based on rituals, myths, and visions directly experienced in periodic ceremonies heightened by plant medicines. The yarn paintings portray the Huichol worldview that sees humans as connected to vast networks of cosmological time, space, and transforming living systems. They believe it is their duty to take care of the cosmos because it is filled with sacred sources of creativity that they depend on for survival. Nierikas are not purely decorative objects; historically these spiritual artworks have been part of the rituals the Huichols participate in on a regular basis, and begin learning at a very young age. A Nierika is a device that allows communication with the spirit world. Originally, after creating them, the Nierikas were left in sacred places like temples, springs, and caves.