On the outskirts of Coatepec—a small, foggy town, located in the forests of Veracruz and known for its coffee production—lies a former hacienda in the village of La Orduña. Built in the 16th century, this magnificent building currently fosters one of Mexico’s most interesting community printmaking centers, La Ceiba Gráfica, which was established in 2005. To commemorate the organization’s first decade, the Museo Nacional de la Estampa (National Printmaking Museum, MUNAE) presents a retrospective exhibition that highlights the history of La Ceiba Gráfica.
La Ceiba was founded through the vision of Swedish artist and researcher Per Anderson. After arriving in Veracruz in 1974, Anderson discovered that the high costs of equipment, tools, and materials hindered constant printmaking activity for the region’s artists and students. With his relentless creativity and with the help and expertise of locals, he designed presses and specialized furniture, using marble stones from Tatatila quarry, and produced lithographic inks and pencils, following the original recipes of lithography inventor Alois Senefelder. Anderson built the center upon a sustainable, decentralized, and horizontal model, in which students become teachers and are encouraged to propose new ideas and frameworks. Through the plurality of visions, La Ceiba’s community identity strengthens.
A Ceiba, in this case, is both a tropical tree and a model to follow: Its roots chose Veracruz as a home, but its branches and sprouts have spread worldwide. With a committed emphasis on artistic education, the center has disseminated printmaking as a valid and, moreover, renewing technique for contemporary art practices. The center’s geographic surroundings establish a slow, reflexive pace, which serves to enable questions about this way of producing art. Why should we keep traditional printmaking alive? Why place a printmaking center away from the big cities that often contribute to production, conservation, and education?