Paula Rodriguez working on a straw appliqué piece, with her husband Eliseo Rodriguez at her side, Santa Fe, NM, 1983.
Paula Rodriguez: Straw Appliqué
Paula Rodriguez has practiced this Spanish colonial
art form since 1936, when she learned it from her husband, Eliseo
J. Rodriguez, who revived it under the auspices of the Works
Progress Administration, a federal arts project.
Straw appliqué developed in 16th century Europe
as an affordable alternative to expensive wood and ivory inlay.
Brought to Mexico by Spanish colonists, straw appliqué became
popular in New Mexico by the early 19th century. This intricate art
consists of gluing tiny pieces of straw onto a darkened wooden
surface to produce delicate geometric and figurative designs. The
most common items produced are crosses, niches, frames and boxes.
By the 1930s, few straw applique artists remained in New Mexico.
Eliseo Rodriguez essentially reinvented the art during the WPA
program. His wife, Paula, was studying and experimenting in the
work, including the serigraphy process, with her husband every step
of the way.
Mrs. Rodriguez has taught the straw appliqué art
form to her children and grandchildren. Her golden crosses and
panels reflect her strong devotion to God and family.
Both her and her husband's work have been collected
by the Smithsonian Institution, the Millicent Rogers Museum, the
Museum of International Folk Art, and the Albuquerque Museum.
Private collectors from the United States, Europe and Mexico have
purchased their work at Santa Fe's Spanish Market.
Documentation comprises a project report, flyers, a
magazine article, photographs, and a video.
Originally submitted by: Jeff Bingaman, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.