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Ritmo de Fuego/ Rhythm of Fire
The Coppersmithing Art & Artisans of Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán, Mexico

A project of the heart, Ritmo de Fuego/ Rhythm of Fire is a book which documents and augments a traveling exhibition of the same name. The book forms a historical and human portrait of the unique coppersmithing community, el pueblo of Santa Clara del Cobre. Addressing essential questions about the transformation and endurance of culture this book is homage to the Santa Clara community, the countless project contributors and collaborators, and all Michoacános living in Mexico and in the USA.
Ritmo de Fuego Book Cover

597 pages, 500+ full-color photographs
hard cover book
ISBN: 0-9741171-0-2
Text is in Spanish and English
price: Out of stock

Currently unavailable at Cuentos. Cuentos is looking for a collaborator to do a re-edition. The book is still available in Mexico in some museum bookstores distributed by EDUCAL. In Morelia Michoacán it is being sold at the Museo de Clavijeros.


[ To purchase using check or money order please email a request: support@cuentosfoundation.org ]

Marion Oettinger, Director of the San Antonio Museum of Art writes that Ritmo del Fuego "..is a true tour d'force and should become the standard to which future research on Mexican craft must refer..."


This book has grown from seven years of collaborative work devoted to the Ritmo del Fuego project—essentially a project del corazón (of the heart). An interdisciplinary team of artisans, community members, and scholars has created an ongoing bi-national exchange to explore and document Santa Clara today, the relationship of its past to its present and to its future. In an effort to see the whole picture, a necklace of distinct perspectives has been strung together to examine its coppersmithing history, regional connections, calendar of festivals, and the stories, aspirations, and traditions of its artisans.

Santa Clara del Cobre, (also named Villa Escalante) is a mestizo, Spanish-speaking community of artisans located in the western central highlands of Michoacán, a region renowned for its metal-smithing mastery originating with its indigenous peoples as far back as 600 A.D. The material (copper) and process mark and record the complicated navigation of this region’s culture as it resiliently transforms through time.

Today the artisans of Santa Clara del Cobre synthesize pre-Columbian, Colonial, and modern-day methods to create hammered copper vessels whose physicality is transformed into symmetrically balanced forms of expressive tension and a poised sensuality. The community’s struggle, their history, their challenges, and their accomplishments speak about a process (of cultural transformation, migration, and exchange) taking place all over the world.


Ritmo del Fuego / Rhythm of Fire is a unique achievement, telling the story of the deep-seated copperworking tradition of Santa Clara del Cobre, an ancient community in the forested mountains of Michoacán, Mexico. What is often seen as “folk art” is shown to stem from early workshops established in Michoacán during the 8th-9th centuries AD, by coastal traders and artisans from the Andean Region of South America. Since then, the manufactures have included utilitarian and ornamental objects. Many have been recovered at archaeological sites, most notably from the 15th century Tarascan Kingdom. Others embrace forms of Spanish origin after the 16th century conquest. Today in the expanding international market, Santa Clara copperwares include a wide range of sophisticated decorative vases, pitchers, trays, dinner wares and related forms. A vital community has evolved with this ongoing tradition, portrayed with affection and care by the project organizer Michele Feder-Nadoff, and the many other authors in this remarkable, well written contribution to the cultural history of the Americas.

Richard F. Townsend
Department of African and Amerindian Art
The Art Institute of Chicago

Ritmo de Fuego Book CoverHuele de Noche is a poetic documentary directed by artist, Michele Feder-Nadoff, that takes viewers on a journey to the copper smithing community of Santa Clara del Cobre, nestled in the mountains of Michoacán, one of Mexico's most beautiful states.

This beautiful documentary brings you into the family studios of the artisans where one can sense the heat of the fire and marvel at the musical power of the hammers.

Spanish: Huele de Noche
English: Night Blooming Jasmine
Spanish and English (33 minutes)
Produced by Michele Feder-Nadoff and the Cuentos Foundation

[ To purchase using check or money order please email a request: support@cuentosfoundation.org ]

DVD is $20.00

plus $6 s/h

Institutional Price:

plus $6 s/h


tryphon: three sounds is a candid portrait of the artist Thomas H. Kapsalis (b. 1925) that also provides an intimate glimpse into the history of the Chicago art scene. Drawing upon personal conversations with Kapsalis, the documentary incorporates extensive images spanning his sixty year career, including paintings, sculptures, ephemera, family photos, and archival footage. Kapsalis contributed to the Chicago artist milieu through over fifty years as a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and continues to contribute through his abstract paintings of impeccable resolution and presence.

These modernist-inspired works emanate a sensibility that combines the Bauhaus aesthetic with a Dadaist irony and humor, presented with the modesty and directness of the Midwest. Kapsalis’s art and character exude a hard-won calm tempered through his life experiences, such as his survival as a prisoner of war during World War II.

tryphon was produced by the Cuentos Foundation to accompany the retrospective exhibition “Thomas H. Kapsalis: Artist’s House, Paintings and Sculpture, 1947-2008,” December 4, 2009 - March 21, 2010. This major exhibition celebrating the life and art of this leading abstract Chicago artist was curated by John Corbett & Jim Dempsey and was organized by the Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University.

Cuentos Foundation presents tryphon: three sounds the art of thomas h. kapsalis
Produced and Directed by Michele Feder-Nadoff
The video’s music includes unique recordings - a sound-work by artist, Lou Mallozzi; traditional Greek and Turkish music by Eric Ederer and Andrea Fishman; and flute improvisations by Corkey Siegal and
tryphon’s video editor, Sharon Karp/ Media Monster.

DVD FORMAT, NTSC ALL, Dolby digital
Total running time: 17 minutes
ISBN: 978-0-9741171-1-9

[ To purchase using check or money order please email a request: support@cuentosfoundation.org ]

DVD is $20.00
+ $6 s/h

Institutional Price:
$50.00 + $6 s/h







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