EMILIO MOLINERO HURTADO
Square Pot with Spout, 1996
Clay: Molded, modeled, painted, burnished
MARTA MORALES NARANJO
Vendor and Offering to the Dead, 1996
Sewn and embroidered cloth
PEDRO RUIZ MARTÍNEZ
Miniature Tea Set, 1998
Clay: Molded, punteado, polychromatic, glazed
|Mexico celebrates a rich tradition of arte popular
that reaches more than 2,000 years into the Mesoamerican past.
Today, in villages, towns, and cities throughout Mexico, indigenous
people and Mestizospeople of mixed Native and non-Native
heritagecontinue to fashion art that expresses their deeply
rooted traditions. Ceremonial and profane, parodic and whimsical,
their art reflects their communal lives and values.
Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art honors this enduring
tradition by displaying more than 500 works of art by 181 of
Mexicos greatest living folk artists. Featuring a panorama
of ceramics, leatherwork, textiles, metalwork, sculpture, and
other works of art, the exhibition shows that folk art is steeped
in the cultures of a diverse Mexican society.
The pieces are divided into nine categories, according to the
raw materials from which they were made: clay, wood, stone,
textiles, metal, paper, leather, plant fibers, and other materials.
As you tour the gallery, remember: behind each object is an
artist with a name, an individual who represents a collective
tradition that reflects the creative capacity and unending vitality
of the Mexican people.
Mexico: Land, People, and Folk Art
Folk art is deeply rooted in the social, economic, and cultural
life of Mexico. It is embedded in a deep sense of community
and symbolizes the ways of doing, believing, working, and being
that Mexicans have developed throughout their history. Understanding
folk art begins by appreciating the land and its people.
A part of North America, Mexico is a land of deserts, rain forests,
volcanoes, and shores. The country encompasses 800,000 square
miles (2 million square kilometers)nearly three times
the size of Texas. Some 61% of Mexicos 97.5 million people
live in urban areas. Greater Mexico City alone has 20 million
residents. About 14% of Mexicans live in semi-urban areas. Some
25% live in rural areas, growing corn and wheat on hardscrabble
With arid regions to the north, warm and humid areas to the
south, and mild or cold areas in the mountainous regions, Mexico
is blessed with a diversity of climates, soils, and vegetation
that provide an abundance of raw materials used to produce folk
Like the land, Mexicos people are diverse. Indigenous
people, who live mainly in the central and southeast areas,
number 10.5 million. Divided into 56 separate ethnic groups,
they have their own social and cultural identities. Many speak
their own languages. Mestizos comprise two-thirds of the population.
Together, these diverse peoples provide the creative energy
that nourishes folk art today.
Folk art mirrors Mexicos history. The Olmec, Zapotec,
Toltec, Maya, Mixtec, and other indigenous people of ancient
Mesoamerica created an array of effigies, vessels, and sculpture
that portrayed their world. After Spain conquered Mexico in
the 1500s, Spanish settlers brought their own artistic traditions
to the New World. Other techniques and aesthetics from Europe
and the Muslim world were incorporated during the period of
Spanish rule, from 1521 to 1821. Asian motifs also arrived,
a by-product of commerce between Spain and the Philippines.
These cultural tributaries combined to form the folk art traditions
in this exhibition.
Many of todays great masters work full-time, either at
home or in workshops dedicated to producing their art. Some
work part-time, making pieces exclusively for community celebrations.
All capture in their pieces a spark of genius, an inspired idea
or notion. To this they add dexterity, technical mastery, keen
aesthetic sensibilities, and versatility. From the selection
and processing of raw materials to the addition of finishing
decorative touches, the great masters of folk art do it all.
The result: singular artistry.