Last night two of the founding painters of alebrijes–one in Mexico City who began making fantastic paper-maché figures, and Oaxaca´s own Isidoro from Tilcajete with a legacy of making wooden toys and masks who projected his creativity into sculpting wooden animals–made an appearance in my dream. I woke up and smiled, taking that to mean that the composite history of the “alebrijes” as it extends from Mexico City to Oaxaca has firmly implanted itself in my brain, nestled comfortably in my subconscious. I have heard it often, and translated it several times over, so it makes sense after all…
Each time, Alex, our alebrije master from Tilcajete, has given an even better presentation, with just a little bit more heart and soul invested.
It seems counterintuitive, because as many of us who have been teachers know, the burnout is real. If you repeat something enough, you lose your spark. But the reality with our alebrije course has been quite the opposite.Alex takes such pride in sharing a piece of his culture, his village, and his family´s longstanding-tradition, that he resonates with new energy each time he gets the opportunity to do so.
My sociological lens made me particularly appreciative that one of our participants was a young US born granddaughter of a Oaxacan family, who has begun to return to the heart of her family’s roots and history to learn more about her lineage, culture, and the prevalent symbols in each, which she is working to incorporate into her graphic design work back in the US.
One of my favorite parts of the Tlayudona business model is those tiny moments in time that result in giant revelations or evolutionary processes–the mutual-learning/”aprendizaje”, the “ah-hahs” when we recognize similarity and/or difference amongst our fellow humans, and those small interpersonal exchanges where new connections are visibly being forged.
Feel free to “Like” our Facebook page or check out the complete photo album of our alebrije experience here.