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Artistic Minds. Maruch Santíz Gómez

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Artistic Minds. Maruch Santíz Gómez

Maruch Santíz Gómez or María Santíz Gómez (Cruzton Ranch, San Juan Chamula, 1975) is a tzotzil indigenous #photographer, writer, embroidery designer and actress

Santíz seeks to document and reclaim the Tzotzil cosmology and symbology by using a minimalist esthetic language. Her projects have explored multiple aspects of the Tzotzil culture: myths and beliefs that explain natural and social phenomena in different communities; communitarian herbal medicine used to cure diverse illnesses; Tzotzil gastronomy and clothing as well as showing flora and fauna from the region where she was born.

She carries out a communitarian immersive research when creating her artistic projects in different Tzotzil regions in Chiapas, where she interviews and talks with elderly and adult men and women to recover communitarian wisdom. She captures this knowledge by using different artistic means: photography, writing, textiles or her body. Her work has been shown in galleries in Mexico City (OMR, Centro Cultural San Ángel) as well as in international artistic centres in the United States, England, Germany, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Island and Taiwan.

Santíz was considered to be the “indigenous revelation of the end of the century” (Rodríguez, 1998) during the 90s. Hermann Bellinghausen (2000) wrote that “Maruch Sántiz is not the first to portray things, but she does it as if she were. Cézanne wasn’t the first man to see an apple”.


In 1993, when Santíz was 17, she attended a workshop organized by Lok’tamayach, Fotógrafos Mayas in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. This organization, financed by Ford Foundation, then founded the Archivo Fotográfico de Chiapas in 1992 in collaboration with Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS). Its goal was to open a space where indigenous peoples from Chiapas could carry out photographic and #videographic artistic projects.

In January 1993, Maruch proposed a photographic project that sought to “rescue and maintain our ancestral culture and our mother tongue, […] these words have never been written and no one has photographed them […] so that this knowledge doesn’t disappear. She visited several Tzotzil communities in the region and talked to elderly women about their beliefs and myths. She then recreated and photographed these beliefs by using her own objects and inviting her family members to participate. This material became her first photographic series named, in English, as “Beliefs of our Forebears”. It consisted of 50 black and white impressions with individual titles and a written description of the belief, both in Spanish and in Tzotzil. In 1998 this series was published as a book.

From 2009 to 2010 she earned the Jóvenes Creadores national grant with her series Registro de insectos, orugas y otros animales”. In 2010 she gave a workshop called “La mirada de espejo” where she worked with Tzotzil youngsters from Altos de Chiapas. This project was financed by the Chiapas government and the Programa de Estímulo a la Creación y al Desarrollo Artístico grant.

In 2011 she gave a lecture on the photography of Chiapas at the Encuentro de Centro Hemisférico de Performance y Política Chiapas. Her photographic work is part of the ZoneZero digital archive and was shown in the 2015 Festival Internacional Cervantino. Her work is included in the Harvard and Stanford Universities collections.

Organisations where she has collaborated.

  • Cooperativa de Escritores Indígenas Sna Jtz’ibajom / La Casa del Escritor.

  • Archivo Fotográfico de Chiapas (AFC) de las organización Lok’tamayach, Fotógrafos Mayas de Chiapas.

  • Taller “Educación en Artes: Curso de Formación de Formadores” taught by Luz Montero.

Photographic series.

  • Beliefs of our Forebears, 1998

  • El arte medicina ancestral, 2015

  • La gastronomía

  • Modas y estilos de los Altos de Chiapas

  • Las Sombras del Sueño, 2009

  • Registro de insectos, orugas y otros animals, 2009-2010


  • 1998 - Beliefs of our Forebears at the Centro Cultural San Ángel, Mexico City.

  • 1998 - Beliefs of our Forebears at the OMR Gallery, Mexico City.

  • 2009 - Las Sombras del Sueño, Chiapas, Mexico[13]

  • 2015 - El arte de la medicina ancestral, in Guanajuato at the Festival International Cervantino.


Beliefs of our Forebears


Abaroa, Eduardo (1998), “Fetiches y pastiches primitivos”, Reforma, Miércoles 6 de mayo. Sección Cultura, p. 3c.

Bellinghausen, Hermann (2000), ”Caligrafía de las cosas: la fotografía de Maruch Sántiz Gómez”, Ciencias, pp. 126-127.

Corkovic, Laura Miroslava (2012), La cultura indígena en la fotografía mexicana de los 90s, Salamanca, Universidad de Salamanca, PhD thesis. 

Coronel Rivera, Juan (1999), “Creencias de Maruch Santíz Gómez” Uno más Uno, Luner 6 de septiembre , sección La Cultura, p. 35.

Debroise, Olivier y C. Medina (2007), La era de la discrepancia, México, UNAM.

Dobnik, Verena (1999), “The artists: Maruch Santiz Gomez”, in .html free access,,, consulted December 8th, 2014.

Dorotinsky Alperstein, Deborah (2008), “Mirar desde los márgenes o los márgenes de la mirada. Fotografía de dos mujeres indígenas de Chiapas”, Debate Feminista, year 19, vol. 38.

Duarte, Carlota (2014), “Sobre el proyecto fotográfico de Chiapas”, in .html free access,, consulted December 8th, 2014.

Earnshaw, Katie y Carlos Torres (2011), “Photographic books of the Chiapas Photography Project”, American Anthropologists, vol. 113, num. 1, pp. 154-161.

Fraga Wiley, Christopher (2010), “Las políticas del tiempo en la fotografía de Maruch Sántiz Gómez”, in .pdf free access, consulted December 8th, 2014.

González, Omar (1999), “Maruch Sántiz Gómez: Creencias, el corazón casi zen de las cosas”, Mexico, Sábado, newspaper Uno Más Uno,  October 16th.

Martínez Corona, Beatriz (2010), “Mujer indígena, movilización y cultura”, in .html free access,, consulted December 8th, 2014.

Miller, Keith (1998), “Maruch Sántiz Gómez “Creencias”, in .html free access,, consulted December 8th, 2014

Quiroz Luna, Marcela (2001), “Maruch Sántiz Gómez. Fotografiar lo intangible”, México, Arena, sección del periódico Excélsior, 15 de julio.

Reyero, Alejandra (2007), “La fotografía etnográfica como soporte o disparador de memoria. Una experiencia de la mirada”, Revista Chilena de Antropología Visual, num. 9, p. 37-71.

Rodríguez, José Antonio (1998), “La promoción de Maruch, México, Cultura, newspaper El Financiero, May 7th.

Santiz Gómez, Maruch, (1996), “Creencias”, free access photographic series, consulted December 8th, 2014

Yehya, Naief (1999), “Sántiz, rescate estético de las creencias”, Mexico, Espectador, newspaper El Financiero, August, 28th.


"Maruch Sántiz Gómez". Retrieved 2018-03-03.

and Wikipedia.

⁠Curator @munllonch⁠


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