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Artistic Residence in the Iconic Textile Factory: An Adventure Among Looms and Emotions

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

In the heart of Veracruz, the Antigua Fábrica Textil of Río Blanco emerges as a beacon of inspiration, becoming the perfect stage for the very first Artistic Residence. Anastasia Shi, Maz Cohen, and Macarena Palazuelos, talented artists from different parts of the world, embark on an introspective and creative journey, exploring the essence of humanity in all its facets. Between brushstrokes, innovative designs, and captivating melodies, these brilliant minds have decided to embark on an inner voyage to challenge the boundaries of artistic expression. The Antigua Fábrica Textil of Río Blanco thus becomes a hub of expression where creativity intertwines with consciousness, and historical legacy comes to life through innovation and artistic experimentation.

In February of this year, Consorcio Matex and Grupo Ronin, the new administrators of the Antigua Fábrica Textil of Río Blanco, invite -as part of an ambitious reactivation plan- a select group of creatives to explore the factory and find inspiration for new artistic proposals. Among the talents that are part of this group is Anastasia Shi, a Siberian artist whose fascination with human beings and their emotions has become a driving force for art.

It is during this gathering that the idea of the first Artistic Residence in the Antigua Fábrica Textil is born. Artists are invited to participate in a two-and-a-half-week experiment to create works inspired by the unique environment of the place. With this vision in mind, a call is launched, and Maz Cohen, a talented artist, designer, illustrator, and South African entrepreneur, joins the project as the first resident of the experience.

Art that Flourishes Among the Walls of History

"To be able to paint, create something, and conceive ideas, I have to live different experiences, travel to different places, see diverse landscapes, and engage in reconnection therapies. I am in the best location I have ever seen in my life, and I have the opportunity to sleep here. Let's see what we can canalize," that's the first thought of Anastasia, the host artist of this first Artistic Residence.

Indeed, the Antigua Fábrica Textil is a space that invites exploration, immersing oneself in its grandeur, and surrendering to the magic that emanates from its walls. "The first thing I notice in people when they arrive at the place is astonishment; from the architecture to the spacious areas, including the gardens and how magnificent this space is," highlights Fernanda Legaspi, CEO, and founder of Grupo Ronin.

With their minds and hearts open, the artists arrived at the Antigua Fábrica Textil without expectations, ready to connect with the place. Soon, they began experiencing changes in their daily routines. "We started sleeping earlier and meditating to feel the energy of the place. Ideas begin to flow, and we find those spaces where we can create with confidence," recounts Anastasia Shi, the Siberian artist.

The walls and spaces loaded with history in the Antigua Fábrica Textil become an incomparable source of inspiration. "Upon seeing the factory, I was immediately inspired by its history and the presence of the place. From the very first moment, I find it to be the right site for me," comments Maz Cohen upon arriving at the textile venue.

The atmosphere filled with history and the imposing presence of the place awaken creativity and a connection to authenticity in the artists. During their stay, Anastasia and Maz explore different spaces within the premises and discover places where their creative process can flow without restrictions. From the old workshops to the cobblestone courtyards, each space offers a new opportunity to express themselves and experiment with new materials. The tangible presence of the industrial past leaves a profound imprint on the artists' art.

"I dedicated the first week to connect with the history, still without having any idea of what I am going to do. I listen very attentively to what they tell me about the place; we go to the lagoon, to the town, we explore every space. In this first stage, I have plenty of time to connect with the legacy of each wall. When I feel the connection between the history, what I want to convey, and what I desire to create, that's when my second stage begins. I start looking for materials from the factory, like cobblestones, fabrics, glass, or old windows. I recognize that this is the opportunity to take the old and turn it into something new, as the history of the factory is also one of rebirth and renewal; I truly want to connect with that energy and that process," recounts the South African artist about her creative process.

Every corner, every texture, and every space become the muse for her artworks. A venue that becomes a magical stage where history and the contemporary intertwine in a unique artistic synergy.

Anastasia tells us, "I see a very dirty door divided with a glass, on which I start drawing faces and attaching fabrics. I begin to feel the energy of those who once worked there; I could feel that those faces are emerging from within me, but they are sad and depressed. At that moment, I decide to change that energetic pattern. And on top of the glass, I start drawing smiles on these faces. As I work on that, I do it with a lot of self-awareness and awareness of my emotions. That's how things from my inner child emerge, and with them, the strokes and ideas begin to flow in real-time because I realize that I have to channel my inner child and play. Seeing all those colors, I realize that by coming to this place, I can reconnect with my inner self. That day, I manage to paint 30% of one of the two works that make up my Inner Child series."

Her artworks capture the essence of the factory and convey the personal transformation they experience during their participation in the residency.

Expanding creative horizons: A shared story begins

During the last days of the Artistic Residency, creativity begins to channel itself in unexpected forms for the artists. "Narration is the third stage of my creative process. I write a story called 'We Are Energy,' an illustrated children's tale for adults that speaks about connection, evolution, and where we come from. This reflects a personal story, about an evolution of myself, my art, the universe, and the Antigua Fábrica Textil. From that story, I created two very large art pieces that outline the final stage of my process. I paint the artworks in a Japanese style, but with the colors and essence of the place," expresses Maz.

The closing of the first Artistic Residency at the Antigua Fábrica Textil is a truly special moment, marked by the presence of the talented artist Macarena Palazuelos. Although Macarena joins the residency towards the end, the immediate connection she feels with the inspiring energy that envelops the venue does not go unnoticed. "I couldn't imagine arriving at the space I arrived at; I was in shock. There are no words to describe so much beauty and grandeur," comments the pianist.

Macarena presents pieces from her latest album. Her melodies fill the historic space, adding a sonic dimension to the artistic experience. It is a memorable closing that resonates in the memories of the residents. "For me, it is a creative process to be with them and be able to talk to them about my album. Normally, I don't speak during my concerts, I just perform. But this time, I feel the openness to talk and guide them through each song. At that moment, I realize that I am defining my story more, a very beautiful process," concludes Macarena.

This residency between artists from different disciplines, such as Anastasia Shi, Maz Cohen, and Macarena Palazuelos, is the prelude to future artistic residencies in the emblematic venue. "The same space inspires a deep dive into personal work that later manifests itself in their artworks," adds Fernanda. The Antigua Fábrica Textil of Río Blanco, in Veracruz, is ready to be a space of inspiration and growth where each artist can expand their art, evolve their creativity, and transcend the boundaries of artistic expression.

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