In January I took a group to Nahá as usual during my Maya spiritual travel program. Nahá is a tiny Lacandón Maya village deep in the Lacandón Biosphere of Chiapas, Southern Mexico. We go there to be with Don Antonio Martinez for ceremony and show our respect that he’s still holding traditions when there’s so much pressure for him to let them go. We also visit with the widows of the late spiritual leader Chan K’in Viejo, as well as spending time at sacred Lacandón sites.
This time we stopped by Kayum’s home. I hadn’t seen him in years. Kayum Ma’ax Garcia is a Lacandón Maya artist of the monkey onen, or clan. He’s also one of Chan K’in Viejo’s sons. He works in acrylics on canvas. In his artwork Kayum conveys actual events, lifeways, creation stories and rituals of a culture nearly gone—as well as his dreams, an important aspect of traditional life. So, in his own way, Kayum is preserving the traditions of his people. I’ve always been fascinated by his art.
But he has little exposure to the world outside his village. I thought to myself, it’s important for his work to get out there, not only to help sustain his family but for others to appreciate Lacandón lifeways and traditions. I suggested to him that he offer his work as archival prints through an online service as I do. But he has no camera, computer or technical knowledge even if he did. Aside from that there’s only Internet at the little lodge where we stay. And the connection is so poor it may as well be non-existent. He had no one to support this possibility, and it was something he really wanted to do after I explained it.
An opportunity landed in my lap, another one that truly matters. The group witnessed the process of this conception. They were excited. I went home and put a vote before the Kenosis Spirit Keepers Board.*
The Allies Gallery is now a program supported by Kenosis Spirit Keepers to sponsor Indigenous artists who have extremely limited capabilities to offer their work. Kayum is our first artist. Proceeds of any of his art sales go directly to him. The same will be true for any other artist we include.
Our online gallery is now up! You’re invited to check it out and support Kayum through purchase of his work and sharing Allies Gallery with others. We currently have prints available for four of his pieces, in various sizes and formats, and will add more as time goes on.
Kenosis Spirit Keepers is the volunteer-run, grassroots organization I founded in 2007 to help preserve Indigenous traditions, a 501(c)3 nonprofit extension of Kenosis.