I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Mayan Riviera region of Mexico for some sorely-needed respite from my busy schedule (I'm actually going back to that same area in a few days for business too). When browsing the shops lining 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, my boyfriend and I took notice of some wonderful artwork created by a local artist. While there is certainly no shortage of shops offering hand-crafted folk art, crafts, jewelry, etc. I was really taken by this artist's unique melding of traditional imagery with her own vision and style. Luckily, she has a website so her work can be shared more readily than having to take a plane or cruise ship to Playa del Carmen (seeing some of her work in person is a lovely excuse to escape to the Mayan Riviera though, not that one really needs an excuse to visit!):The Art of Alejandra MendozaHer work is an interesting combination of playfulness and eroticism populated by scarlet-horned women, dual-tailed sirens, bird- and insect-winged folk, and numerous hybrid creatures. Much of it is embellished with Mendoza's own scrawled handwriting (en Español, of course) as well as with found materials. From Alejandra's artist statement:My work is a primitive struggle between sweet nightmares and grotesque dreams, of people with tame bull horns and bitter bird wings, fish tails, forgotten insects, impossible bodies dancing with unnatural positions to music that never happened...I have learned that art has a life on its own and how I play with it is my endless task. I could say my work is often aggressively-whimsical, much like my own country México.Although not native to the region of Mexico I visited, the Yucatan peninsula, there were numerous pieces of art available for sale created by the indigenous Wixárika (Huichol) people of western Mexico. Upon entering one particular shop, I was immediately drawn to a yarn painting of a deerwoman with a resonant voice singing beneath a midnight sun (or at least that is my interpretation). I knew that piece was going to have to come home with me. I also purchased another beautiful painting of a multi-hued deer sigil so she would not be too lonely ;) Deer play a very important part in Wixárika mythology not only because they is a major, sacred food source, but also because the God Kauyumarie in the form of a deer enables shamans to communicate with the rest of the Wixárika pantheon. Deer are also said to have the ability to transform themselves into the greatest sacrament of the Wixárika, the peyote cactus Lophophora williamsii, which is ingested to inspire divine visions and for medicinal purposes. (You can click on the image at left to view a larger version.)
My work is a primitive struggle between sweet nightmares and grotesque dreams, of people with tame bull horns and bitter bird wings, fish tails, forgotten insects, impossible bodies dancing with unnatural positions to music that never happened...I have learned that art has a life on its own and how I play with it is my endless task. I could say my work is often aggressively-whimsical, much like my own country México.