Alvaro de la Cruz López, Capula, Michoacán
Folk art in Mexico is created in the homes of families and is as much a part of daily activity as cooking a meal or walking to the vegetable market. In most of these families, the process includes everyone, from the youngest to the oldest. Thus it is in the home of Michoacán's potter, the remarkable Alvaro de la Cruz (deceased 2022), where his sons Juan Carlos, Daniel and Antonio are becoming well known on their own merits.
De la Cruz has taken the character of the Catrina, created by Jose Guadalupe Posada and turned it into an art form. The Catrina is a skeleton dressed in elegant clothes. Although most of the figures are female. Alvaro gives attention to male figures as well and many of his creations are charros (Mexican cowboys), boyfriends or other manly figures. The detail is incredible and each figure is handmade and there is only one of its kind.
José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) created portraits of biting humorous society figures of well-known politicians that were never meant to last. Drawn in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in a flimsy newspaper, his satirical illustrations were part of the political literature and meant to be seen by Mexico City residents and then discarded. But Posada managed to ensure that his prints survived the tests of time, despite the cheap paper on which they were printed.
Posada considers all members of the community to be easy prey for his ingenuity. His most enduring image is the calavera Catrina, a figure dressed in a costume of European elegance and crowned with a wide-brimmed hat with feathers. Originally created to illustrate the popular song "La Cucaracha," Posada used this figure to criticize the overly exaggerated dress of Mexican women, who at the time were obsessed with French culture.
On their first glimpse of Catrinas, many people are horrified by figures of skeletons dressed in extravagant clothing. In Mexican folk art, death is seen as the other half of life and is a common theme. This lighthearted depiction of death is a good reminder of the inevitable for all of us and there is no more fitting figure than the Catrina, one of the most whimsical art forms Mexico has to offer.
Dr. Miguel Silva #328
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