Art of Mexico - Latin American Art

Art for National Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.


The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period. [1]



rodolfo goana

Statue by Humberto Peraza honoring Rodolfo Gaona, the Mexican matador who invented the move where the cape is held behind the matador's body. Tijuana, México


Following are resources on the internet that will assist you with National Hispanic Heritage month as well as give you ideas for lessons. Many of these resources promote interdisciplinary studies that integrate other subject areas.


Resources on IAD

Art of Mexico - Lesson Ideas - Unit submitted by: Breanne Soviero K-5, Long Island. Lesson: Zapotec Rug Paintings.

Hispanic Ceramic Suns - Unit: Pablo Picasso- Cubism. This is a lesson on Mexican Folk Art Suns.

Hispanic Artists - A list of links to resources on well known Hispanic artists.

Ancient Mayan Civilization - This page includes a history of the Mayans and their art and culture. This includes Mayan hieroglyphic texts and a common form of Maya sculpture, the stela.

Hispanic Culture Month Unit - Internet sources provided to learn about Hispanic cultures (Mexican, Central American, etc).

Amate Bark Paintings - This high school lesson focuses on Amate Bark Paintings one of the many Folk Arts of the Latin American Culture.

Amate Bark Paintings - This middle school lesson teaches Amate Bark Painting processes by simulating the color and texture of the paper and produce a visual representation of an Amate Bark Painting using similar colors, symbols and subject matter.

Clay Animal Sculptures -This middle school lesson uses ancient pre-Columbian animal sculptures as inspiration.

Animal Sculptures - This middle school activity includes animal sculptures that were made in Ancient Latin America.

Thanks Paintings - This middle school lesson helps students understand the importance of devotional art in Mexico. It explains Ex voto - inscribed with a testimonial in which gratitude is offered to a patron saint for a miracle received.

Art of the Inca Lesson Ideas - This elementary school lesson page includes activities involving the Inca. Students explore the art of the Inca, a lost civilization from Peru.

Animals in Art - This elementary school lesson has students creating a picture of a Toucan from the continent of South America using pencil, marker, and oil pastels.

The Incredible Halloween Page - IAD's page on Halloween and the Mexican Holiday, Days of the Dead.




This bullfight was performed in Tijuana, Mexico. As you can see, the color red is a favorite color in the bullring. Note the injured matador laying on the ground. These fights can be very violent and most the bulls are killed with swords called estocada during the fight. Compare the scene above to Édouard Manet's (1832–1883) painting called Stierkampf below.





You can see the arts integrated into sports in Mexico. This picture shows vendors outside the bullring. Note the colorful lances or Picas standing against the paintings. It is common for paintings in Mexico to be painted on black felt. This creates a sharp contrast and brings out the colors. Click on the image for full size.




Music is also integrated into sports in Mexico. Note the boy at the bottom of the picture above doing a matador dance with the red cape while the bands are playing. Click on the image for full size.

Resources Online

Celebrate Hispanic Culture Month - This page includes many resources by Education World. Many Hispanic Americans trace their roots to the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Others trace their roots to the Spanish explorers. If you want to see a list of well known Hispanic artists, see Artcyclopedia's page. To test students on the Hispanic artists listed there, look at this Work sheet.

Resources for Teaching about the Americas -- Here you can access over 65 lesson plans dealing with Latin America, the Caribbean and culture studies. Also see their Lesson Plans -- Excellent lessons on Border Art pdf and Sculpture Lesson pdf by Jude Grochowski. The Amate painting lesson pdf is good for younger students (grades 3 through 8).

Corridos sin Fronteras, Songs Without Borders- This is the Smithsonian traveling exhibition and educational web site celebrating the narrative songs known as corridos. Make sure you have Adobe Flash player installed so you can also hear the background music. Educational timeline - listen to ballads from 15th century and post revolutionary days - tales of daily life in Mexico.

Discovering Mexico - National Geographic. "To capture the essence of today’s enigmatic Mexico, the magazine sent four photographers and a team of writers across the border." Also see National Geographics "Troubled Spirits," "Through the Eyes of the Condor: An Aerial View of Latin America," "Nicaragua," "Panama," and "Uruguay."

Hispanic History in the Americas - from Scholastic. Trace Spanish influences in the Americas with interactive map. Timeline of events from "discovery" to 1990's. Needs Flash plug-in.

Mexico: From Empire to Revolution - A Web resource that draws upon the collection of the Getty Research Institute and extends the two-part exhibition held at the Institute between October 2000 and May 2001. View with flash - or use traditional HTML format.

Mexico for Kids (Archive) - This site is in Spanish. History, games, traditions, and more.! Fun ways to learn about Mexico.

"Day of the Dead" (DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS) [Archive] Salvador, R. J. (2003). Find out about this Mexican celebration. Must have Resource - Video: "Flickering Lights: Days of the Dead" (from Crizmac Art and Cultural Education Materials). See all of the wonderful resources from Crizmac.


roadside stand

Arts and crafts is a huge industry in Mexico. Although almost exclusively sold to tourists, it provides a living for people like the man above at the El Paricutin shop. (Click on image for full size)


History of Day of the Dead --from Mexico Connect. Good photographs of traditional altars and crafts as well as what is put on the altar and why.

"Day of the Dead" - photographs, multimedia presentations. You can even send your own skeleton postcards. See their page on crafts for Day of the Dead. Why do you suppose "Day of the Dead" is important in Arizona?

Electronic Biologica Centrali-Americana - Original 58 volumes of this remarkable work of natural history were created and composed during the 19th century in an effort to identify, categorize, and document the flora and fauna of Meso-America. Great from Science integration - for Oaxacan animals lesson.


Humanities Interactive: Mexican Art Identification Game Teacher's Guide [Archive] - This page lists vocabulary words relating to 30 centuries in Mexican history. Also see the interactive game, The Mexican Art Game [Archive]. This game is in flash and can be a little slow to load at times.

The Grandeur of Viceregal Mexico: Franz Mayer Collection -- Mexico City
The Museum of fine Arts, Houston. Selected works presented in detail. View the collections - Resources and Lesson Plans for teachers.

Fine Art- Artists of Mexico - Research any of these artists selected by Artcyclopedia.

Hispanic Research Center - An art center at Arizona State University. Contemporary Hispanic Art: a variety of styles highlighting symbols, images, and color. Such styles include campesina, folkloric, traditional, contemporary Chicano/Latino, and Magic Realism.

Art and Cultural Exhibitions in the Hispanic World. A long list of links for Online exhibits.

Hispanic Art Links artists, museums, galleries, and on-line collections of Hispanic art. Includes great masters from Spain -- 16th through 20th century art - Resources listed by country, too.

National Museum of Mexican Art - Promotes the art and culture of Mexico and its people around the world. Nationally renowned yet rooted in the community, NMMA builds bridges through art.

Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)- The Museum of Latin American Art educates the public through the collection, preservation, presentation and interpretation of modern and contemporary Latin American art in order to promote cross-cultural dialogue.

Universe in Universe - Worlds of Art is an independent, non commercial website for the visual arts in particular of Africa, Latin America, and Asia in the context of international art processes. Editors: Dr. Gerhard Haupt and Pat Binder in Germany.

Dia De Los Muertos Folk Art - A Facebook page with Day of the Dead themed art.


Sergio Bustamante contemporary ceramic, paper mache, bronze furniture and jewelry. Many sun and moon images.

Maria Elena's Mexico (Archive) - Contemporary artist (now deceased ). Acrylic Oils and watercolors. This artist also has stories to share about living in Mexico.

Frida Kahlo and Contemporary Thoughts - excellent site created by Daniela Falini. biography, essays, exhibitions of work and more. See also PBS' site on Frida. Learn more about Frida Kahlo (Archive) from this page created by Kansas teacher, Woody Duncan. Frida on Artcyclopedia. See also the Frida Kahlo Foundation's site with all her works.

The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo - PBS site includes a biography, photographs of the artist, a timeline, selections of her work with accompanying information, a list of related resources, and educational guides.


Book: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas. - biographies, information about Mexico and 24 art activities for elementary through middle school - book by Carol Sabbath. The personal and artistic development of both artists is highlighted in this beautifully illustrated book, as well as a history of 20th Century Mexico and a look at Ancient Mexico, giving children a well-rounded look into these legendary Mexican artists.


Jose Guadalupe Pasada Traveling exhibit by the University of Hawaii.

The Virtual Diego Rivera Museum - Diego Rivera was a "legacy to modern Mexican art was decisive in murals and canvas; he was a revolutionary painter looking to take art to the big public, to streets and buildings, managing a precise, direct, and realist style, full of social content." Diego Rivera on Artcyclopedia. Also see this site and this one of the Rivera exhibit at MOMA. Read news on Rivera from the New York Times.

Remedios Varo [Spanish/Mexican Surrealist Painter, 1908-1963]. Also see Varo, a site with biography and works. See the Varo Registry (Contemporary women artists. preview all artists before showing to students) List of prints available for purchase. See the fan site, Hungry Flower with many links.

Mexican Artists - listed by Artcyclopedia


Fantastic Figures: Oaxacan Ceramic Folk Art - A video by Crizmac featuring the work of Josefina Aquilar (Crizmac Video - 30 minutes)

Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art - From the Smithsonian National Museum of American Indian.

Alebrijes paper mache creatures from the Lopez family. (This site has pop-up adds). NOVICA online - examples of papier mache. Alebrijes (pronounced al leh BREE haze) are made out of a wood found in Oaxaca, or papier-mache. Day of the Dead art [Archive] - Work by the Linares family by ArtNet.

Mexican Folk Art Guide - A great site that features the Alebrijes and other things related to Mexico by the Copal family.

Lion Scorpion Alebrijes by Miguel Linares [Archive] - A page on Getty's ArtsEdNet combines the face of a ferocious lion, the claws of a stinging scorpion, and the horns of a wild beast.

Paper Mache - from Milagros Seattle (commercial site)

Alebrijes or Animalitos A brief explanation and a few images - from Mexico online.

Alebrijes - Oaxacan Woodcarving - El Caracol Zapotecafine 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.

Alebrijes - Oaxacan Woodcarving Lots of whimsical animals. Several folk artists featured - from La Fuente Imports. Also see beautiful Amate Bark paintings. Huichol bead art and yarn painting. More folk art and fine art to feast the eyes. Commercial site - but beautiful contemporary crafts.

Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art - A website that features artists as well as a shopping section. See - Alebrijes -- Amate Papermaking -- Master Artists.

Paper Art of Mexico (no images) Since pre­Columbian times amate has been made from the bark of various moraceous trees including the fig (amatl in Nahuatl), which is crushed, pounded into flat sheets and dried.(New links to come on this topic)

Artisans in focus: Zapotec Weaver-- the history and culture of the weavers of Teotitlan del Valle is alive and thriving. Weaving of the Gonzalez family. Learn a little of Zapotec history.

Mexican Folk Art - pdf pdf file (52 pages). Excellent review for you and your students from Pheobe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. (Teaching Kit available)

Mexican Folk Art -Tesoros Escondidos: Hidden Treasures from the Mexican Collections - Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. This is a temporary exhibit - browse now for excellent source of images in all folk art media.

Mexican Indian Textiles - Site by Bob Freund - identifies the groups and village where embroidered and woven textiles come from. Lots of detail images.

Zapotec Weavings - How Zapotec create their weavings (brief description and some images) Here a some good images of Zapotec Weavings.

Zapotec Weaving Video - The Village of Textiles: Teotitlan del Valle, a 20 minute video available from Crizmac

The Huichol Indians- Yarn Painting-- paintings are personal interpretations of some aspect of Huichol relationship to the Gods by Mexconnect.

Ojo de Dios or Eye of God Huichol Indians of Mexico and the Aymara Indians of Bolivia weave brightly colored yarn on a simple frame of crossed sticks to make a design called "Ojo de Dios" or "Eye of God". Make one for yourself. In Mexico, The central eye was made when a child was born. Each year, a bit of yarn was added until the child turned five at which point the Ojo was complete. Here is a very complex Huichol design. Many instructions can be found online - from simple to complex.

Ojo de Dios by Jay Mohler. See these very complex designs of yarn mandalas inspired by the Ojo de Dios of Mexico. Instructions included for eight sided Ojo de Dios.
Milagro Seattle - Offers an extensive selection of whimsical and collectible works of art by several of Mexico's most renowned artisans.

Milagros Gallery of Sonoma. We specialize in hand selected Mexican Folk Art and home furnishings.

Whimsical Art [Archive] - Folk art from Mexico -- Oaxacan wood carvings, coconut mask, Mexican tin mirrors, handmade Christmas ornaments. This company is no longer in business but you can view an archive of the site that includes great pictures.

National Geographic's NOVICA - Mexican Art - Andes - Brazil - Central America

Folk Art Exchange - The Alebrijes and Animalitos are mystic, imaginary, and hand-made wood art. In the beginning these pieces were made with papier mâché. Today the artisans use different kinds of wood, Copal, Cedar (Cedro), Aguatcatillo, and Twisted Wood (Palo Torcido).

Lively Arts - [Archived] Mexican Folk Art.

Museum of International Folk Art - Santa Fe Online exhibits change from time to time. Notes on selected exhibits. Also see the Museum of New Mexico.

Papier-Mache - Learn all about techniques and history of this craft in their "How to" section.

Hispanic Culture Month Unit on IAD


Maya Inca Aztec - Ethno Photo Documentation of Indigenous Cultures. This is a commercial site - but has some wonderful photos of the people today. See colorful photos of people of Mayan, Incan and Aztec decent. Site is by Warren Michael Stokes. Teachers have permission to use his photographs for educational use.


Arte Latino - Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Art traditions from 18th through 20th centuries.

El Museo Del Barrio - Latin American Museum. New York’s leading Latino cultural institution, having expanded its mission to represent the diversity of art and culture in all of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Joaquin Torres-Garcia - Artcyclopedia's page on this Uruguayan Painter and Sculptor. See also the Art Museum of the Americas - Browse their collection on Flickr.

Latin American & Caribbean Art - Links to history and more from Universes in Universe Worlds of Art compiled by Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt.

¡del Corazón! Latino Voices in American Art - Smithsonian American Art Museum online exhibit, which uses photographs, videos, and other resources to examine how various Latino artists speak through their different artworks. Lesson plans included (available in English). Much of the site's materials are available in both English and Spanish.

Rough Cut - Cuba: The Art Revolution - Online video from PBS Frontline. Filmmaker Natasha Del Toro travels to Cuba to meet two of its most acclaimed artists as well as others who make a good living selling their art to tourists in Havana.

Latino Art and Design - See their page on Latino Resources. They have many links and departments regarding Latino art and culture.

Artists listed by Nationality- Artcyclopedia


Julio Castillo - Yucatan artist - 70% of his money he makes from the sale of his paintings goes to the Mayan people for health care.

Viredo Espinosa - Cuban painter and printmaker - now living in California. Check the Engraving gallery for linoleum prints.

Sergio Hernandez - Los Angeles artist who got his start as a cartoonist. See Death Takes Frida! Don't miss his work on Xispas. See Email Interview with Sergio and students at Littlerock High School on IAD, Littlerock, California.

Nicario Jiménez: Artist of the Andes - Contemporary artist - maker of Retablos - sophisticated art in the form of portable boxes filled with brightly colored figurines arranged into intricate narrative scenes. Nicario now lives in Florida.

Marion Martinez - [Archive] Hispanic themes in art - all from discarded circuit boards. image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Crosses, Milagro and Sacred Hearts, Matachine Headdresses, Santos, Southwest Imagery, and AzTechna Jewelry all created from circuit boards and other technological gems. See his current work.

Oscar Martinez - Contemporary Latino artist in Chicago - Figurative work full of line, pattern and color with a bit of mystery ("artwork is about the mysteries of the mind"). Very inspirational! Original oil paintings and Giclee prints prints. Born in Puerto Rico.

Soraida Martinez - Latino artist of Puerto Rican heritage - known as the creator of "Verdadism", a form of hard-edge abstraction in which paintings are juxtaposed with social commentaries. Many women's issues - and about minorities. Must see site.

Petra Espinoza Rosales - Dolls of Mexico - Mexican States Porcelain doll collection. Click on State map - see dolls representing authentic costume from each state of Mexico. Each Doll is hand crafted. El Paso artist.

XISPAS - The Journal of Chicano Art, Culture and Politics - Wonderful art represented - cartoons, too. Write to artists for permission to use images. Visit their individual web sites.


Crizmac Art and Educational Materials - High quality programs for arts and crafts of Mexico. Many materials for Days of the Dead.


Amate Bark Painting: Folk Art of Latin America (Archive) - Middle school through high school - Lesson by Grace Hall, Bogalusa City Schools.

Papel Amate - pdf Lesson for middle school (RetaNet Resources).

Chicana and Chicano Space - A Thematic, Inquiry-Based Art Education Resource. 25 Chicana/o and earlier artworks and detailed information about each, as well as thematic instructional units focused on these artworks. From Arizona State University (adaptable middle school through high school)

Hispanic Art - Art of Mexico - Lesson Ideas on IAD.

Five Artists of the Mexican Revolution - ArtsEdge-Kenndy Center lesson grade 9 through 12.

Popular Mexican Arts Yale-New Haven lesson plan.