The United States is known as a melting pot of many cultures. The Straw Shop thought it important to feature the one American specifically accredited to reviving straw appliqué art in the United States, specifically in New Mexico.
He was already recognized as a painter during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He had the rare opportunity to receive funding under the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project (1935-1943). This Federal program was established to employ most of the musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large projects until the economy recovered from The Great Depression.
Life long artist Eliseo Rodriguez was approached by the director of the program with a proposal that would change his artistic focus and ultimately define his art for the rest of his life. He was asked to resurrect the Hispanic art form from the 18th and 19th centuries called “straw appliqué ” (a then disappearing colonial art form in northern New Mexico).
Within a mere 20 years, Eliseo and then his wife Paula were the sole recognized straw appliqué artists in The United States. During the years, both Eliseo and Paula taught straw applique to family members and friends. Many of which continue this tradition today.
It was not until the 1970s that Eliseo was encouraged to enter his straw appliqué pieces in the Spanish Art Market. This art style still flourishes in the United States thanks to Eliseo Rodriguez and his wife Paula. National Endowment of the Arts recipients for their lifetime achievements, awarded in 2004. The Straw Shop recognizes the important contribution this couple made to American straw work.
Eliseo Rodriguez (1915-2009)
Paula Rodriguez (1919-2008
For more information about the Rodriguez legacy.