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Interview with Maestro Shinzaburo Takeda

July 17, 2009

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I just found this interview artist Kevin McCloskey did with Shinzaburo Takeda, the artist who taught the ASAR-O collective in Oaxaca, Mexico. Read the full interview here in the e-zine CommonSense2.
From Kevin McCloskey’s blog:

I was surprised to learn the man who taught the radical young printmakers of Oaxaca’s ASAR-O collective was a mild-mannered seventy-five year old Japanese master printer. I had the privilege of speaking with him earlier this year in Oaxaca.

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His own artwork is generally not political in nature, but he has been an inspiration to a new generation of activists/artists.
Maestro Takeda spoke about his outreach project to Oaxaca’s poor. He is devoted to the nurturing students from the underclass, the sons and daughters of “campesinos” or landless peasants. Oaxaca is among the poorest Mexican states and one of the poorest regions of the state is the remote Costa Chica. Nearly 8 hours by bus from Oaxaca City, the Costa Chica is home to Afro-Mexican communities. An activist Roman Catholic priest there, Padre Glyn Jemmott, has made it his life’s mission to raise awareness of Mexico’s racial diversity. Padre Glyn is himself of African descent, born in Trinidad, and like Maestro Takeda, devoted to expanding opportunities for the campesinos. During the 1990s Maestro Takeda arranged for some of best students go to the Costa Chica and work with Padre Glyn
When the political turmoil hit Oaxaca in 2006, Takeda challenged his students to respond to the crisis as artists. If one is an artist, then one responds to any phenonomenom, be it natural, social, or political, as an artist. He teaches his students about Mexico’s proud heritage of activist artists. He shares his own collection of books of Taller Grafica Popular prints with his students. He is impressed with both the quality and quantity of political prints his former students in ASAR-O have produced. He recalls with pride how ASARO upended the whole idea of the preciousness of art, selling their unsigned prints for just a few pesos more than the cost of the paper it was printed on.

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