Podcast: Charlotte Bell – Bridging Cultures with Creativity
Charlotte Bell is many things – professional photographer, quiet activist, and community organizer. She and her husband live in an enchanting and beautiful little house in Travis Heights, but they also spend nearly half their time in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Charlotte is one of those Austinites whose passions might have touched you without you ever knowing who she was. For years she has helped a group of women from villages around central Mexico build careers making folk art rugs, which she would exhibit and sell in Austin to help them raise money. Back in the day, you may have seen these rugs at the old Las Manitas on South Congress or in the Travis Heights Art Trail, which Charlotte also founded.
To me, Charlotte is an amazing example of a creator who has used her talents to try and raise up the lives of others. Whether it is the women and girls in the villages around San Miguel or the artists who live in her south Austin neighborhood, she has been one of those slow but steady forces to help others and build bridges.
I’ve included some photographs from Charlotte’s book Rich Roots about families Mexican involved in the Rug Hook Project, and from her book Tears from the Crown of Thorns : “Written in both Spanish and English the book touches the heart and fascinates the eye with exotic locations such as a storeroom filled with angels or the midnight procession of three shrouded statues lit by candle light and carried through the night accompanied by 5000 pilgrims. Included is the story of Genero Almanza the famous santero (maker of religious statues). It illustrates his ancient process and the lineage of santeros dating back hundreds of years to Spain.”