Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art
 Introduction  Clay  Leather  Metal  Paper  Plant Fibers
 Stone  Textiles  Wood  Various
 Fomento Cultural Banamex Program in Support of Folk Art  home
Tree of Dances by Oscar Soteno Elias

Tree of Dances, 1997
Clay: Molded, modeled, appliquéd, polychromatic
Metepec, Estado de México
Coyote, Nahual and Feline by Manuel Jimenez Ramirez

Coyote, Nahual and Feline, 1997
Wood: Carved, painted
Arrazola, Oaxaca
Pineapple by Hilario Alejos Madrigal

Pineapple, 1997
Clay: Molded, modeled, appliquéd, glazed
San José de Gracia, Michoacán
Fomento Cultural Banamex, A.C.; the National Council for Culture and the Arts (Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes); Banamex-Citigroup; Corona Extra (Procermex, Inc.); Tequila Herradura; Aeroméxico; and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, are proud to present Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art.

The exhibition features more than 500 works of art by the most distinguished folk artists in Mexico today. The objects exhibited here, representing the work of 181 artists, were collected from approximately 118 locations in all of Mexico’s 31 states. They reflect the full range of the major crafts of Mexican folk art.

The collection is comprised mainly of the works of the great masters who participate in the Program in Support of Folk Art, an initiative sponsored by Fomento Cultural Banamex to publicize and sustain Mexican folk art. The work of other outstanding artists has been included to present the broadest selection of Mexican folk art.

The Program in Support of Folk Art was founded in 1996 to bolster endangered artistic traditions. Decreasing use of traditional raw materials and techniques as well as waning interest in folk art production among young Mexicans were beginning to undermine craft traditions and threaten the future of folk art. Concern for the survival of these art forms led Banamex to develop the Program in Support of Folk Art.


The Program in Support of Folk Art aims to expand employment opportunities for folk artists; bolster the economic foundations of their communities; sponsor training workshops to improve production methods; teach novice artists ancestral production techniques; expand public interest in and develop new markets for folk art; and generate additional income for artists and their families.

Program Stages

First stage:
The Program in Support of Folk Art began by identifying people recognized as outstanding artists in their own communities, as well as people who best represented the different branches, specialties, and characteristics of Mexican folk art. Other criteria included: years of experience, excellence of manufacture and design, and the beauty of the artist’s work. Ultimately the program identified 181 artists from all over Mexico as great masters.

Second stage:
The program promotes the work of the great masters by organizing traveling museum exhibitions as well as commercial fairs in Mexico and abroad. Brochures and books, such as Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art, also disseminate knowledge of the artists and their work.

Third stage:
The program sponsors marketing workshops for artists who have the desire and ability to increase sales of their products, and forges stronger commercial ties between artists, department stores, marketing companies, and importers and exporters.