Often described as mythical creatures, alebrijes are carvings of wooden animals known to be protective spirits. This Mexican folk art originates from Oaxaca, Mexico.
“Years ago I learned to make alebrijes and realized that people had 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. Every year he travels from Oaxaca to Chicago to lead the workshops, but this year they’ve gone virtual.
Orozco said he appreciates this intercultural exchange and the opportunity to educate.
“I love to travel to Chicago, share my personal experience and educate people about the culture, history and art of Oaxaca. I think the most important thing for me is that I try to make that connection. I am trying to build a bridge between the two countries, ”he said.
Class information can be found can be found here. Alebrijes and all painting supplies can be delivered to you in person. and the class proceeds go directly to families in Oaxaca.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @ angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Artistic correspondent.
Note: This story first appeared on October 28, 2020. It has been updated.