Welcome to an exciting and comprehensive journey through Mexican Folk Art!

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But what exactly is Mexican Folk Art?
Folk Art is the name given to the artistic creations made by peasants, indigenous people or craftsmen with no formal artistic training. A folk art item is handmade and has a functional purpose opposing an art object that is made for aesthetic purposes only. Most of the folk art creations are made by anonymous people but they can be identified with a region or ethnic group culture.

An artisan or folk artist is often described as a person skilled in an applied art who makes by hand distinctive products in small quantities using traditional methods and through experience and talent reaches the expressive levels of art in their work and what they create.

Folk Artists in Mexico are always part of a community either in the country side or the city. Is within the community life that people keep their traditions alive and can support each other. In most rural communities crafts are made in the artisans' spare time, being farming their main activity.



Mexican Folk Art Diversity
One of the most appreciated aspects of Mexican Folk Art is its great variety. This diversity is not only because of the difference between communities but also for the great variety of raw materials available in the country.

Mexico has more than a hundred types of clay; soft, light and hard wood; several metals such as copper, teen, silver and gold; many vegetable fibers as cotton, sisal, ixtle and agave, leather and wool; assorted stones, like onyx, obsidian, amber and opals and on top of all these a wide assortment of vegetable, mineral and animal dyes.

Mexico satellite map

Mexico borders in the North with U.S.A, in the South with Guatemala,
in the West with the Pacific Ocean and in the East with the Gulf of Mexico,
the Caribbean Sea and Belize

Thanks to this extensive variety Mexicans are well known for their many pottery styles, wood carvings, blown glass, lacquerware, metal ware, papier mache figurines, vitreous enamel, many different textiles and paper crafts.

With the availability of new materials like acrylic paintings, nylon threads, plastic beads and artificial dyes new folk styles have arose and others were improved. Most of the artisans are ecologically savvy specially the woodcarvers. Projects to replace the trees that are used in crafting styles are implanted in many communities such as the copal tree used in the woodcarvings from Oaxaca.

Mexican Folk Art History and Cultural Origins
Mexico was the cradle of great civilizations, like the Mayan, the Zapotec and the Teotihuacan and although with the Spanish conquest, in the middle of the 16th century most of the native cultures were destroyed the esthetic patterns and the use of bold colors endure till today.

Teotihuacan Arqueological Site.

Teotihuacan arqueological site

Culturally, Mexican Folk Art arose from the blend of the different Mesoamerican cultures and the Spanish culture with Arabic and Asiatic influences.

The Spaniards brought new materials like wool and silk, new techniques such as glazing and new crafts like saddleware. The Arabic influence came through the Spanish that were conquered by the Arabs for a long time and the Asiatic came specifically from China and Philippines through the Nao of China.

Mexico is a fairly large country, its geographic diversity and the lack of road links between different regions helped to the isolation of the several ethnical groups that live in there, thus preventing them from losing their cultural heritage.

In the middle of the 20th century, when Mexico began to be a tourist attraction, Mexican Folk art received a mayor impulse, allowing the artisans to make a living from their work. New styles were sponsored by art collectors, like the woodcarvings from Oaxaca and the Mata Ortiz Pottery while colors, patterns and subjects are constantly adapted to satisfy buyers taste.

MagnifierPlease mouseover Tree of Life and use wheel to zoom in-out.

Oscar Soteno's Tree of Life depicting different Mexican Folk Art styles




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