San Juan Comalapa
The Paintings of
Maria Elena Curruchiche is the second granddaughter of Andres Curruchich to become a painter. Andres married twice, and Rosa Elena is a granddaughter of his first wife, while Maria Elena is descended from his second wife. Maria Elena’s father, Vicente Curruchich, became a painter like his father.
n the late 1980s, Salvador Cumes decided to form a woman’s painting collective from interested Kaqchikel women. He taught them how to draw, mix paints and stretch canvas. Drawing on his association with Mexican Surrealist painters, he encouraged them to draw their themes from their dreams. Linda Asturias de Barrios, a Guatemalan anthropologist, took interest in this group of women artists and wrote about them. She helped organize yearly exhibitions of their work. In 1997, Grupo Maya Kusamej Junan arranged an exhibition of their work at Somart Gallery in San Francisco, California. Paula Nicho Cumes and Maria Elena Curruchiche represented the collective at the opening. Returning home to Guatemala, the town of San Juan Comalapa sent a bus to meet the two artists at the airport, and staged a triumphant return to the town. The reception Paula Nicho and Maria Elena received was far different than the poor reception Rosa Elena felt she had suffered a decade or so earlier.