Madero de Jesus from El Salvador
Aminta Flores de Mancia
Aminta Flores de Mancia is an artisan at heart. In the 1970s she was famous in her hometown of La Palma for her delectable homemade quesadillas, which she made at night and sold door to door each day. One of her appreciative customers was the internationally-renowned painter Fernando Llort, who had moved to La Palma to escape the political and social instability in his native San Salvador. Llort was giving art lessons in his home and encouraged Aminta to try her hand at drawing. Aminta was too shy to join the group, but she did begin watching the lessons through Llort's window. One day, as fate would have it, she finished her work early and her curiosity finally got the best of her. She decided to take Llort up on his suggestion to give it a try, and soon discovered that drawing came as easily to her as cooking. She began taking his classes and quickly became a skilled painter in her own right. By the early 1980s she and Llort had co-founded La Semilla De Dios ("The Seed of God"), an artisan collective that trained artists in what was becoming known as the La Palma school of painting.
By 1988, Aminta had become a master painter and had gained the confidence to go out on her own. She opened a workshop, Madero de Jesus ("Jesus' Cross"), and began creating exquisite hand-painted ornaments, nativities, puzzles, and mirrors. Interest in her work began to grow, as did her business. As of 2010, Madero de Jesus employs twelve full-time artisans and twenty-two part-time painters to meet the worldwide demand for her creations. Best of all, her children work at her side to manage every aspect of the business.
She's proud of her success, but still remembers her early poverty and strives to make life better for her employees by allowing them to work at home and providing medical care. Despite her success and recognition as a Master Artisan, she is eager to help anyone with an interest in painting get started. And even now, visitors to her workshop are treated to one of the best quesadillas they'll ever eat.
Maria began working in the corn fields at age twelve to help support her large family. One day, she took a chance and knocked on Aminta's door. Aminta took her in and began teaching her to paint. Now a full-time artisan, Maria has lofty goals for her family's future. "When I first came here I did not know how to paint," she says. "Now I do it and have learned that I am capable of anything I put my heart into. I want my sisters to finish school and go on to college, and with my salary we will be able to achieve that."
Sonia works long hours to provide for her family, and has found financial independence for the first time. "I never had steady work before," she says. "Working here means the world to me and my family."
The La Palma School of Painting
The La Palma style is known for its use of primary colors and two-dimensionality. Images of rural life predominate, with attention to animals, birds, flowers, and simple adobe houses.