"Zapotec Legacy"

Exploring the Visionary World of Efrain Fuentes and Silvia Gomez

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 2, 2023

Exhibition Dates: November 2, 2023 to January 12, 2024

In the heart of San Martin Tilcajete, a quiet and vibrant village nestled in the Oaxacan valleys of Mexico, a remarkable artistic legacy thrives. “Zapotec Legacy: Three Generations of Alebrije Artistry” invites you to immerse yourself in the captivating journey of Efrain Fuentes and his family, whose passion for wood carving and the creation of alebrijes has been passed down through three generations.

Efrain Fuentes, a talented artisan, embarked on his artistic journey at the tender age of 7 under the expert guidance of his father, Epifanio Fuentes. His very first creation, a small angel, remains a cherished memento, representing the inception of his lifelong dedication to wood carving.

A defining moment in Efrain’s artistic journey occurred in 1993 when, at just 13 years old, he exhibited his work for the first time on foreign soil in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the renowned Jackalope. Among a diverse assembly of artists from around the world, Efrain captured the hearts and admiration of many as the youngest artist in the exhibition.

Today, Efrain is married to Silvia Gómez, an artisan from the same community. Silvia’s skill lies in the intricate decoration of the alebrijes that Efrain and their four children carve. Together, they operate a family workshop where creativity knows no bounds.

Their artistry has not only garnered local acclaim but has also traversed international borders, thanks to the support of art enthusiasts and individuals who have taken it upon themselves to share this beautiful tradition with the world. Their work has graced the walls of galleries, the halls of schools, the sanctuaries of museums, and the studios of art institutes.

As stewards of the earth, the Fuentes family has embraced a deep connection with nature. They express their gratitude by planting trees on the lands of San Martin Tilcajete, a practice they have upheld for over two decades. In their workshop, Efrain and Silvia have also adopted sustainable practices by reusing various woods, roots, and salvaged materials collected from the hills of their community. Their artistic vision breathes new life into dried wood, allowing it to take form as alebrijes. This commitment to sustainability is evident in their diverse choice of materials, which include copal, walnut, cedar, willow, sabino, huamúchil, and zompantle.

“Zapotec Legacy” is a testament to the enduring tradition of wood carving and alebrije artistry, encapsulating the essence of culture, family, and environmental stewardship. Join us in celebrating the rich tapestry of creativity and heritage woven by Efrain Fuentes and his family as they continue to breathe life into the magical world of alebrijes.