Hello MOCA Fam!
We hope you enjoy this series of MOCA Fun Fridays, at-home arts projects that will pull inspiration from contemporary artists, techniques, and accessible art making.
For this project, I’m pulling inspiration from my Mexican heritage to share with you. We’ll be learning all about alebrijes, and then making our own with cardboard, scissors and paint. You may have seen examples of alebrijes from the Disney movie “Coco,” colorful mystical creatures in the land of the dead. These are a few of mine, a hummingbird and a cat that my abuela and mom gifted to me.
Alebrijes are brightly colored sculptures in Mexican Folk art (also known as Artesania Mexicana) of fantastical creatures. The term and art style was created in the 1930’s by the artist Pedro Linares. The origins of the figures actually come from a time in Linares’ life when he was very ill from a fever. He dreamt of a strange forest filled with odd and fantastic creatures like a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, and a lion with an eagle head, and all of them were shouting the word “Alebrijes.” After he got better, he started to create the creatures from those dreams, and his work caught the attention of a gallery in Cuernavaca, as well as artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. There is so much rich history from that part of the world, which is right in the area that I spent a lot of my childhood in. The late surreal artist Alice Rahon recently had an exhibition at MOCA, and so many of her paintings have hidden stories that were told from generation to generation, I encourage you to read about them.
I decided to create a Chihuahua, the beloved breed that originates from Mexico. My friends and family have had wonderful chihuahuas in their lives, and this felt like a fun way to remember them.
What you’ll need:
Small paint brushes
First, decide what animal you want to make. For the chihuahua, I’ve drawn out the shapes below like a 3d puzzle. Draw the head, body, a tail if it has a tail, and the legs. Each of those pieces will need a rectangle to help it connect to the body on the small notches. This is the hardest part, so you may need to ask for help!
Cut all of your shapes out with scissors, I ended up cutting the notches into triangles, because they worked better than rectangles
I tested the alebrije out before I painted it to make sure it worked and it could stand.
Then, take it apart, and paint the cardboard pieces white so your colors will stand out nice and bright.
Paint both sides white, then pick your main color. Remember, Alebrijes have fantastical bright colors, so get creative!
Let your pieces dry, then decide what patterns you’d like to paint! A lot of alebrijes have dots, flowers, stripes, and other intricate patterns. Get creative with yours!
Once your paint is dry, assemble your alebrije, and you’re all done!
What fantastical creature did you create? Share your final alebrijes with us by tagging @mocanomi and using the hashtag #MOCAFunFridays