San Juan La Laguna in Sololá, Guatemala has been inhabited by Tz’utujil Mayans for generations. It has long been a site of high-quality craft production, known for the beautiful weavings and embroidered huipils produced by its resident artisans. In recent times, painting has become another popular artform in the city.
Married partners and lifelong artists, Angelina Quic and Antonio Coche, head a family-run studio of self-taught painters who were among the earliest in their community to embrace oil painting as a medium of self and cultural expression. Antonio was the first to learn the medium, and he taught Angelina and his brothers its technical aspects. When she began, Angelina faced questions from other women about why she was pursuing painting—a man’s artform—but she ignored her detractors and continued to develop her own interests and style, experimenting with perspective and composition. She recalls the moment she became interested in portraying scenes from vista de pájaro, a bird’s eye view. She and Antonio visited an overlook point in the hills near San Juan La Laguna. Fascinated by the way the city and people looked from above, this overhead perspective became a signature of her work.
The family studio’s artworks, rendered in spectacularly saturated oil colors on canvas, represent scenes of everyday life in their community set against the backdrop of the fecund landscape along the shores of Lago de Atitlán. Subjects include the coffee harvest, agricultural crop cultivation, craft production, family get-togethers, local markets, and traditions handed down from their Mayan ancestors. Angelina and Antonio are full time painters who teach and inspire young artists in their community. The success they’ve achieved in selling their work has allowed them to send their daughter to university where she studies industrial design.