On Sundays we offer free art sessions including materials and refreshments to our neighbor children in San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, Mexico. The projects have been ongoing for three years now and at times we have struggled to come up with new ideas. The kids delight in creating something and taking their artwork home. At times we have given them crafts to paint and embellish. Our latest effort is finishing an alebrije. Mexican Alebrije´s are hand carved wooden sculpture of fantastical (fantasy/mythical) creatures that are brightly colored with designs.
|Two alebrijes from our collection by the Jimenez family
Last Friday Amy and I went with a new found American friend who lives in our village and drove an hour to Ocatlán, a bigger town nearby Oaxaca. Ocatlán's Friday market is a tapestry of culture, offering everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to handcrafted textiles, arts & crafts, and livestock for sale or barter. Our quest on this particular Friday was to delve into the world of alebrijes, the whimsical, fantastical creatures carved from wood that have become emblematic of Mexican folk art. We sought hand carved, unpainted alebrijes that local craftspeople make and sell. We wanted unfinished ones for our children to paint. Unpainted and awaiting transformation, the wooden canvases held the potential for magic. Bees, turtles, dogs, and rabbits awaited their metamorphosis into alebrijes. Our friend had told us we must arrive early because items sell out fast. By 7:30 AM we had a collection of carvings from several artisans.
|Jo, buying a rabbit (conejo)
|Family of carvers
Sunday the children dipped their brushes into a palette of vivid colors, unleashing their imagination onto the wooden canvases. Laughter echoed through the air as wooden bees, turtles, dogs, and rabbits were transformed into vibrant, fantastical beings. Each stroke of the brush was a step closer to the creation of their unique masterpiece, a testament to the rich cultural heritage and artistic spirit of Oaxaca.