• Oaxaca
  • Oaxaca


Debra Fritts has been on our radar for quite some time so when she approached us about teaching, along with her multi-talented husband, Frank Shelton, we couldn't wait to pair them with the magic of Oaxaca. It is, after all, a city known for its black pottery, so mixed media sculptures, art, and two talented artists sounds like a dream to us. Oh, and the food is pretty scrumptious, too.  Win, win. 

Frank Shelton

Frank Shelton

In this workshop, Debra  and Frank will collaborate and share their love of combining materials for art making. The focus will be to tap on the inner spirit of each artist by allowing personal responses to the use of materials and our surroundings.

The ceramic head will be hand built with an emphasis on facial features and surface decoration.

Debra Fritts

Debra Fritts

Mixed media figures made of papers, fibers, plaster and quikrete also will be will be constructed. The participant can chose to either combine these two pieces or keep them separate.

Frank Shelton

Frank Shelton


Day 1. Feb. 16 Everyone will arrive in Oaxaca. We will meet that evening for introductions, agua frescas, margaritas and little bites before everyone heads off to their rooms. 

Day 2.  Feb. 17   9:00 Breakfast, then Debra and Frank will share some of their work and discuss how to allow the surroundings of Oaxaca, the color, the patterns, and found objects to become an inspiration for the figurative work.  

Debra will demonstrate how to hand build a clay head using coils, a simple and successful technique for quick building. We will break for lunch and then Frank will share a poem with the class. 

Debra will demonstrate how to create a face using pushing out techniques and manipulating soft clay.  Class will work along with the demos. Class will be over around 4:30 and we will take you on a quick walking tour, then there will be free time until we meet for dinner that evening at 8:00. 

Day 3.  Feb. 18  9:00 Breakfast. Following breakfast, Debra will demonstrate a painterly approach to treating the clay surface. Underglazes and engobes will be used and mark making will be discussed. After our lunch break, we will have another poetry reading with Frank. Debra will discuss clay surface treatments. Free time to explore Oaxaca before a cooking class with Ana Elena Martinez at 7:00

Day 4.  Feb. 19  This morning Frank will discuss and demonstrate building techniques for a figurative form using newspapers and masking tape. Participants will start to build their forms. We will break for lunch then Frank will share a poem before he demonstrates strengthening techniques using plaster gauze strips. After class, there will be free time and then we will meet for dinner at 7:30. 

Collaborate piece by Debra and Frank

Collaborate piece by Debra and Frank

Debra Fritts

Debra Fritts


  • 8 nights accommodation, double occupancy
  • Five days of workshops with Debra and Frank
  • Welcome fiesta
  • All meals except for one lunch and one dinner
  • Walking tour
  • Visit to market
  • Artisan visits
  • Two cooking classes
  • Farewell dinner
  • New art tribe

Accommodation:  Hostal de la Noria, located across from the Textile Museum and two blocks from the zocolo.


Price: $3,300, limited to 12 people based on double occupancy, limited single rooms are available for an additional $500.  (This trip is full, a waiting list has been started.)

A $1,000 non refundable deposit is due upon registration with the final payment due October 17, 2017

Price does not include airfare to/from Mexico

Airport: Xoxocotlan International Airport is an international airport located in Oaxaca City, in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. The Airport has only one terminal that handles domestic and international air traffic. Code: OAX. There is a United direct flight from Houston that leaves around 6:15 p.m. and leaves Oaxaca around 8:30 a.m.


Day 5.  Feb. 20 Today is a travel day. After breakfast, we will head to the villages of San Bartolo Coyotepec and Tilcajete.  The first stop will be to visit some of the black potters and then off to Jacobo's very busy alebrijes studio. You'll watch as the artists carve, sand and paint the very colorful creatures. Then you will have your own opportunity to paint a small alebrijes to take home with you. Lunch will be provided and this evening dinner is on your own.


Day Six. Feb. 21  Breakfast and then Frank will demonstrate surface treatment using quikrete, papers, and fibers. At 1:00, we will walk to the taco corridor at 20 de Noviembre Market (our friend, Chef Rick Bayless, takes you on a little tour here).

We'll return to our studio space and Frank will focus the group with another poetry reading before demonstrating  techniques for adding color to the figure using paints, inks, collage materials and found objects.

Day Seven Feb. 22 After breakfast, we are off to visit the Centro de las Artes (CASA) in San Agustín. We'll tour the facility and see a paper making demonstration with opportunities to buy paper. Then it's off to Etla to Susana Trilling's Seasons of My Heart Cooking School for a cooking lesson on cooking just a few of the moles from Oaxaca. It's a definite treat for foodies. You won't need dinner tonight. 

Susanna Trilling, Seasons of My Heart Cooking School

Susanna Trilling, Seasons of My Heart Cooking School

Day Eight  Feb 23. Breakfast and then Debra and Frank will lead a discussion on finishing the work including ideas on how to display work. You have time to finish your projects. Lunch and the rest of the day is free before we meet for our a very special dinner at Origen with Top Chef winner, Rudolpho Castellanos. The restaurant was named one of the top 25 restaurants in Mexico in 2016. 

Day Nine.  Feb. 24 Trip is over and everyone leaves.


This itinerary may change due to weather, new opportunities of the whim of the group.

Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch

When living in Atlanta, Frank and Debra often visited Taos, Santa Fe and Abiquiu but were drawn most of all to Abiquiu.  Both were inspired by the colors, rock formations and lighting. Now their studios are not far from Georgia O'Keefe's home and studio. You can see the colors of the area reflected in their work. 


Debra Fritts is a studio artist working in Abiquiu, New Mexico. She received her undergraduate degree in Art Education from the University of Tennessee and continued graduate studies in ceramic sculpture, painting, and printmaking.  Debra currently conducts figurative sculpture workshops at her studio, and master classes nationally and internationally.

Debra enjoys national recognition for her work in ceramic sculpture through invitational exhibitions and awards, museum exhibitions and collections, gallery representation, private collections and publications.  Her one of a kind sculptures are hand-built and multiple fired with a painterly glazed surface. The work is a continuous story of awareness and the celebration of daily living.



Frank Shelton is a mixed media artist.  He describes his process of working by paraphrasing a quote from the late Israeli artist, Moshe Kupferman. "...I first put in emotion and expression. Next, I cover it up. Then, I put in silence..." While the process and product are important to me, I feel both are dead without passion. It is the passion that sustains me as an artist and human being.