Often described as mythical creatures, alebrijes are wooden animal sculptures known to be protective spirits. This Mexican folk art originated in Oaxaca, Mexico.
“Years ago, I learned how to do alebrijes and realized people have no help or support to show their art. So as an artist, with my family, we created a collective called Puech Ikots, which means ‘words of our people,’" said Indigenous artist Carlos Orozco.
Orozco works to support the collective through workshops where people can paint their own alebrijes and learn more about the history of Oaxaca. Each year, he travels from Oaxaca to Chicago to teach the workshops — but this year, they went virtual.
Orozco said he appreciates this cross-cultural exchange and the opportunity to educate.
“I love to travel to Chicago and share personal experience and educate the people about the culture, history and art from Oaxaca. I think the most important thing for me is that I’m trying to make this connection. I’m trying to build a bridge between both countries,” he said.
Class information can be found can be found here. Alebrijes and all of the paint supplies can be delivered to you in person. and proceeds from the class go directly to Oaxacan families.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.
Note: This story was first published on Oct. 28, 2020. It has been updated.