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Flags of Community

Eric Mindling | Oaxaca, Mexico

They moved us in the 50's to build the reservoir to make electricity for the cities. Moved us to land surrounded by pastures owned by big ranchers. As ever, we hold on. Petrona Canseco Felicita, Arroyo Zapotillo, Oaxaca, Mexico.

In traditional communities of Oaxaca, Mexico, clothing is culture made visible, worn like flags of belonging. These portraits are a sampling of hundreds made over a two year period in 60 Oaxacan villages. They comprise the most complete photographic documentation of Oaxaca’s traditional dress and the people who wear it ever to be undertaken. Throughout the globe traditional cultures are at a crossroads in time. Rapid changes over the last sixty years, the period of a single lifetime, have pushed availability of cheap, manufactured goods, as well as the influence of commercial media into most corners of the planet. There now exists an aging generation of people who were born into unique traditional ways witnessing their children abandon these in favor of commercial goods. Much of the human genius and creativity built over the millennia still exists, but as the grandmothers and grandfathers begin to pass, so too does their cultural heritage and knowledge. These images bear witness to those people who have not forgotten the collective wisdom of our ancient human family.

I have lived and worked in the traditional communities of southern Mexico for 25 years. It is my own rootlessness that draws me to these deeply rooted communities in a search to find peace in my own displaced soul. Without trying they teach us things we truly need to know, things that we forgot so long ago we don’t even know they’re gone. I photograph my heros, wishing to honor these humble teachers who have guided me in this life. 

Eric Mindling


Instagram @eric.sebas

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