The plaza outside the Cathedral of Chihuahua in Chihuahua, Mexico, usually bustles with older adults who pass time on the benches and families who come to shop at the mobile vendors. The plaza has been closed since November due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Ivette Gutiérrez makes a necklace at her workshop in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. Gutiérrez designs and creates clothing and accessories with recycled material. “Any piece of material, broken necklace or unworn dress,” she says, “can be turned into a piece of recycled art and have a new life.”
Rubén Hernández Medina, 62, a public bus driver since the age of 18, lives with his wife and two children in Mexico City, Mexico. Since the coronavirus pandemic started, he’s lost 25 kilograms (55 pounds) because he sometimes skips meals so his children can eat more. Public transport ridership went down 75% due to school and office closures. “I’m going to ask God for this to change at least a little bit, even just 50% ... I think with that we’d be on the other side,” he says. “And I think that behind us there are people who are even worse off than we are. We complain, but we need to ask God to help them and to help us.”
Arturo Hernández makes a shawl with a homemade spinning wheel in San Pablo Villa de Mitla, a town in Mexico’s Oaxaca state. Hernández began to learn the art of weaving when he was seven years old. Today, he is a master Zapotec weaver.
Luis Espinoza fixes his bicycle at Enchúlame la Bici (Beautify My Bike) a collective workshop in Mexico City, Mexico. The workshop was closed for almost six months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. When it reopened, the workshop offered a class on basic bicycle maintenance and mechanics.
The Papantla Flyers perform on a beach in Puerto Vallarta, a popular tourist destination in Mexico’s Jalisco state. The group usually performs a theatrical representation of a renowned Totonac ritual dedicated to Tláloc, the god of rain.
Luis Melendez García carries wood through a construction site in Chihuahua, Mexico. As a laborer, Melendez has seen his livelihood affected by the spread of the coronavirus. “Where we’ve really been affected is with food,” he says. “They’ve stopped work on a lot of projects, so how are we supposed to eat, to feed the family?”
Luis Fernando Vélez restores a bronze sculpture at his workshop in Puebla, Mexico. The piece has been sanded and polished, and the coating he is applying will accentuate both the texture and detail of the sculpture.
Gabriela Arellano, a member of The Clay Sisters Theater Collective, performs for a social media video in the historic center of Puebla, Mexico. The performance is about three generations of women and their relationship with the courtyard space. The collective is recording in the small courtyard since the coronavirus has limited stage performances.
From her home in Tecámac, in the state of Mexico, kindergarten teacher Berenice Cruz video chats with parents to discuss her students’ learning environments and upcoming schoolwork. “I’m going to change the decorations based on the holidays that come up,” she says.
Miguel de los Santos sculpts tree trunks for the Sierra Hermosa Sports Complex in Tecámac, in the state of Mexico. One of his sculptures is a Mexican grizzly bear that went extinct in the 1960s, to raise awareness of the role humans play in the extinction of animals.
Macrina Mateo works on a piece of pottery in San Marcos Tlapazola, a town in Mexico’s Oaxaca state. This community in the Central Valleys region is inhabited by the Zapotec people and is known for pottery made from the yellow and red clay around its mountains.
Alejandro Negrete puts on a helmet he made to look like an axolotl during the Rodada Axolotl 2.0 bicycle demonstration in Mexico City, Mexico. The demonstration was held to protest the construction of a vehicular bridge that threatens a wetland in Xochimilco, a neighborhood in the south of the capital. “It’s an axolotl because the animal is native to the municipality, it has been a symbol of Xochimilco for many years and it’s in danger of extinction,” Negrete says. “The few species that used to live in the wetland have already disappeared. Taking control with bicycles, taking some space back from the cars – which have always had the upper hand in this – is essential. Cars separate you, and bicycles get you to create communities.”
María Luna participates in a Mayan ceremony in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. The ceremony honors the fifth anniversary of the declaration of the Maria Eugenia Mountain Wetlands as a sacred place. Locals and members of environmental groups gathered to honor life, Mother Earth and nature. The city of San Cristóbal de las Casas lies in a mountain wetland area, but the city’s growth and demand for housing have increasingly destroyed this natural environment.
Cristian Romero, a dancer, producer and the director of the Mas Beat dance academy, performs for drivers at a red light in the El Carmen neighborhood of Puebla, Puebla, Mexico. Since dance companies and art centers have closed, artists like Romero have taken to the streets to share their routines for donations. “We have no choice but to put our hearts into it,” Romero says.
José Ángel Tomas, 83, is a tailor in Guadalajara, the capital city of Mexico’s Jalisco state. He moved there on his own at the age of 12 to learn the trade. “Today, the fabric does not last long,” Ángel Tomas says. “Before, it lasted for many years. Now, they’re finished after being worn two or three times: They rip or lose their shape. Before, a suit was for one’s whole life. Not anymore.”
Viviana Alavés pours beeswax on a candle at her family’s shop in Teotitlán del Valle, a town in Mexico’s Oaxaca state. For residents of Teotitlán del Valle, marriage requires one of two things: asking for the bride’s hand before she leaves home or offering an apology for having taken her before asking. In either case, each aunt, uncle and parent of the groom must bring candles to the bride’s parents’ home. There, the bride’s parents will light each candle as a symbol of the good wishes and blessings the family bestows on the marriage, which will take place when the candles run out, approximately one year later.
Fabián López installs a door in the hallway of a home in Tecámac, State of Mexico. He has offered his services to his neighbors since the coronavirus forced the blacksmith shop where he worked to close. In spite of the health emergency, he’s been able to find enough work to maintain an income.