In this week’s ‘Memories of Casa de Campo’ post Carol Burke, our weekly writer reminds us of the incredible beauty of Altos de Chavón – with it’s nooks and crannies, artistic creations and impressive architecture.
The greatness of a craft consists firstly in how it brings comradeship to people. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery (French Pilot, author of The Little Prince) 1900-1944
Altos de Chavon itself is a great work of Dominican craftsmanship. The stone masons of the Dominican Republic outdid themselves building this village. Most of the buildings and the amphitheater are made from stone. There are stone walls with patterns and figures inlaid in them, and a stone patterned pavement. There are obelisks and terraces of stone, and a 350-step stone stairway down to the River Chavon.
In the late 1980s Altos de Chavon not only had a world-renowned School of Design, but there were also Dominican artisans in a workshop making items for sale to benefit the Altos foundation.
The Altos artisans produced their creations hidden away from public view in several workshops in Altos. Sometimes when the doors or windows were open one could catch a glimpse of them making pottery, turning wood items, weaving rugs, or silk-screening T-shirts.
The T-shirts made in Altos de Chavon were either to celebrate an event, such as the Heineken Jazz Festival,
or to celebrate a designer’s view of Altos. There is the vision of Altos de Chavon perched on the back of a giant black cat,
and a minimalist viewpoint of Altos as an “A” shaped patchwork color field with a long green lizard climbing up.
Altos artisans created a variety of ceramic sugar bowls, lidded cookie jars, bread bowls, and decorative ceramics. All of the Altos ceramic work had an edgy quality about it which distinguished it as coming from Altos de Chavon.
The glazes on the ceramics ranged from highly detailed geometric designs to sensuous strokes of color.
Some of the glazes were allusions to the pottery from an archeological dig. They were natural earth colors and seemed to have emerged from the ground.
Some of the earthenware jars were lidded with the “Diablo” head of Dominican Folklore.
The artisans of Altos made beautiful turned wood bowls too. Their skill at woodcraft was amazing.
Their work ranged from stonemasonry to stoneware, and from woodworking to the textile arts of weaving and macramé.
These crafts of Altos help keep the memories of Altos alive through the years.
Many thanks to Carol Burke for another wonderful article! If anyone would like to view Carol’s photos in higher resolution or download them, you can do some by visiting her flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dandelion-tree/collections/72157624697056850/
Also below are links to all of Carol’s previous articles!