Featured in Borders Episode

Ofelia Esparza

Ofelia Esparza

Ofelia Esparza, educator and lifelong artist, is an “altarista”, a master altar-maker who teaches the meaning and history of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and creates the altars that commemorate loved ones who have passed away. She began this work in 1979 at Self Help Graphics & Art in Los Angeles, CA, alongside founder Sister Karen Boccalero. Ofelia’s strong commitment to keep the Mexican tradition of Día de los Muertos alive in the U.S. is visible in the heartfelt beauty of the community altars that she and her family erect annually for the celebrations at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.

J. Isaac Vásquez García

J. Isaac Vásquez García

J. Isaac Vásquez García, master weaver and dyer in Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico, pioneered the revival of the use of pre-Hispanic Zapotec and Mixtec natural dyes on pure wool by the local weavers in the 1950s. Isaac’s three sons, five daughters and their families take great pride in keeping this tradition alive. They perform all steps by hand, taking the raw wool to finished rug: carding, spinning, dyeing and weaving. Their designs are drawn from both modern and Zapotec sources.

Jim Bassler


Jim Bassler, weaver and teacher, was introduced to the craft traditions of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia at an early age. The ethnic textiles that inspired him during these early travels became the foundation for his work. Over the years, Jim has continued to incorporate techniques from various ancient cultures, especially Navajo, pre-Columbian, Andean, and Mexican textile traditions into his artistic process.

Veralee Bassler


Ceramic artist Veralee Bassler first took clay in hand around the age of 15 in a favorite high school class, ceramics. Several years later, she graduated from UCLA Art Department with a concentration in ceramics. Veralee then began a 25-year career of teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District and currently, with her husband, Jim, has chosen to live an intensely creative life.

Kiff Slemmons


Kiff Slemmons

For four decades, Kiff Slemmons, artist/jeweler has celebrated nonprecious materials in her distinctive jewelry. She describes her inspirations as, “Tribal jewelry of Africa and the Arctic, writers like W.G. Sebald, artists like Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, Inca stonemasons, and hand-activated tools and devices.” In 2000, Kiff was invited by Francisco Toledo, Mexican artist and cultural activist, to design jewelry for his paper workshop, Taller Arte Papel Oaxaca. Collaborating with local artisans to create jewelry using local plants like majahua, agave and cotton, and traditional dyes such as indigo, cochineal and ochre, this practice refers to the long history of paper-making in the region and holds a special significance in Mexico.

Francisco Toledo

Francisco Toledo

Francisco Toledo, known in Oaxaca as “El Maestro”, is regarded by many as Mexico’s most important and provocative living artist. He has been instrumental in building a series of highly successful public cultural institutions in the city that he calls home, Oaxaca: the IAGO—a graphic arts museum and library; the MACO, a contemporary art museum; the Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo; the Francisco de Burgoa Library, a rare book library in the recently restored Convent of Santo Domingo; PRO-OAX, an environmental and cultural protection nonprofit organization; El Pochote, an art cinema; Taller Arte Papel Oaxaca, begun in 1998, in San Agustín, Etla, Oaxaca, using native fibers and renewable resources; and the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca, an ethnobotanical garden that tells the history of the co-evolution of the plants and people of Oaxaca. In an effort to enhance public education and preservation of the environment, Toledo feels he is fulfilling a duty to the future of the people of his country.

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Black Mountain College
Jack Lenor Larsen
Forrest L. Merrill
Felicia Rice
Kay Sekimachi


Deborah Cross
The Gamble House
Jack Ipekjian
James Ipekjian
Judson Studios
Corine Pearce
Randy Stromsoe


Gerardo Monterrubio
Carlomagno Pedro Martínez
Magdalena Pedro Martínez
Jaime Guerrero
Miguel Angel Ortiz Miranda
Carmen Tapia
Cristina Romo
Eduardo Herrera
Judy Baca


Ofelia Esparza
J. Isaac Vásquez García
Jim Bassler
Veralee Bassler
Kiff Slemmons
Francisco Toledo


Patrick Dougherty
Michelle Holzapfel
Mary Merkel-Hess
Preston Singletary
Catherine Alice Michaelis


Mark Mitsuda
Barbara Teller Ornelas & Lynda Teller Pete
Linda Sikora
Therman Statom


Corey Chan
Thomas Chun
East West Floats
Babatunde Kenneth Graves & Malik Seneferu
Yumei Hou
Jeff Lee
Travis Lum
Nawal Motawi
Yoshiko Yamamoto
Jared Young


Joan Baez
C.F Martin & Co.
Scotty Barnhart
Tony Ellis
Rhiannon Giddens
Jason Ginter
James Hartel
Kamaka Hawaii
The David G. Monette Corporation
Joseph Pereira
Jake Shimabukuro
Stelling Banjo Works


Eugene Burks
Pam DeLuco
Judas Recendez
Ehren Tool
Peter Voulkos


Joe Cunningham
Bethanne Knudson
Jan Lee
Graham McKay
Lucy Mingo
Libby O'Bryan
Mary Ann Pettway
Shane Yamane


Biltmore House
Veronica Castillo
Garcia Art Glass
Susan Garson
Grove Park Inn
Harley Refsal
Isabel and Enrique Sanchez
Kathleen Trenchard


Chloe Darke
Albert Paley
Tom Pullin


Tanya Aguiñiga
Lia Cook
Clary Illian
Warren MacKenzie
Jeff Oestreich


Terese Agnew
Randall Darwall
Faith Ringgold
Consuelo Jimenez Underwood


Cliff Lee
Holly Lee
Paul Marioni
Dante Marioni
Marina Marioni
Ed Moulthrop
Philip Moulthrop
Matt Moulthrop
Lisa Sorrell


Charles M. Carrillo
Beth Lipman
Thomas Mann 
Joyce J. Scott


92nd St Y 
Julie Chen 
Cary Esser 
Kansas City Art Institute 
Tom Killion
Nikki Lewis 
North Bennet Street School 
Dave & Roberta Williamson


Jim Bassler 
Teri Greeves 
Mark Hewitt 
Jugtown Pottery 
Vernon Owens 
Pam Owens 
Travis Owens
Philip Simmons 
Paul Stankard 


Jamex and Einar de la Torre
Sarah Jaeger
Ken Loeber
Dona Look
Mississippi Cultural Crossroads
Penland School of Crafts
Pilchuck Glass School
Hystercine Rankin
Denise and Samuel Wallace


Kit Carson
David Gurney
George Nakashima
Mira Nakashima-Yarnall
Richard Notkin
Timberline Lodge
Jan Yager


Cranbrook Academy of Art
Garry Knox Bennett
Pat Courtney Gold
Mary Jackson
Tom Joyce
Sam Maloof