Serving Art Educators
and Students Since 1994
Submitted by: Joani Share, Arcadia High School, Phoenix, Arizona
UNIT: Sculpture - Folk Art - 3-D Design
Lesson: Oaxacan Animals - with paper clay
Grade Level: Middle School through High School
Whimsical Creatures Based on Oaxacan Wood Carving
Create a whimsical creature based on the Oaxacan Wood carvings. Your "creature" will have an armature (base) made from newspaper and tape. It will be covered with "Paperclay" then painted- a base coat and then designs (patterns) using paint pens.
Size: Your creature should be no more than 8" x 10" (20 x 25.5 cm) (can be smaller, or extended if wings or horns are added). Be inventive! Create your whimsical creature on paper first- draw thumbnails then build the armature out of newspaper.
Oaxaca, pronounced wa-HAH-ka, is one of Mexico's largest states and its folk art and traditions are among the richest. Oaxacan painted wood carvings have become a prized folk art. They are created by the Zapotec Indians who live in the Oaxaca Valley, located in the southern part of Mexico.
The wood carving techniques and artistic capacity of the Zapotec Indians are legendary, honed over hundreds of generations. Each of the wooden sculptures are hand-carved from the wood of the Copal (or Copillo) tree. Each piece is hand-sanded and painted in bright and exciting motifs. Traditionally the men carve the forms, and the women paint them using very tiny paint brushes and sometimes-organic material such a pine needles.
The style that dominates today can be traced back to a single man- Manuel Jimenez from the village of Arraloza. These sculptural carvings are called Alebrijes.
Alebrijes - Oaxacan Woodcarving - El Caracol Zapoteca fine Oaxacan Woodcarving Gallery. These are some of the finest examples I have seen. Beautiful details - nice close up views. Educational site (as well as commercial). This gallery does give art teachers permission to use images provided you send them email first. If you want only a few - Fair Use guidelines are permitted.
Oaxacan Woodcarving - Oaxacan woodcarvings are among the most popular form of folk art available today. These fanciful, brightly colored figures created by rural Mexican woodcarvers reflect the myths and traditions still very much a part of the carvers' daily lives.
Mexican Folk Art: From Oaxacan Artist Families - This reference introduces contemporary Mexican folk art by featuring prominent artists from Oaxaca in southeastern Mexico. Their unique artworks are introduced and illustrated.
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