Francis & Rodolfo Rodríguez Ojeda, Arocutin, Michoacán
Francis and Rodolfo Rodriguez live in a small village on the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. Here they cut and sand the tiny pieces that go into making their unique and imaginative handmade wood retablos, nichos and other art.
Most of their designs have stories attached, such as nahuales (people that turn into animals), La Noche de Muertos (Night of the Dead celebrated every November 1 and 2 in Mexico), la curandera (the healer), the shaman's dream, the corner store, the wedding night and many others — all are original designs.
Both have been painting for many years and over time developed their unique folk art technique. All pieces are made of pine and painted with acrylic paints, then finished with coats of lacquer.
In Mexican and South American cultures, small, decorated boxes called “nichos” are commonly found in homes and public places, displayed on walls or pedestals. Made from wood or tin and often painted with bright colors, they provide a stage-like setting for an object or collection of objects that have special significance. Most commonly functioning as an altar for a religious icon, a nicho can also serve as a memorial to a loved one or as a reminder of an important event.
There are many artists today who have taken an old artform, such as the nicho, and put their own spin on it. Rodolfo makes the pieces and Francis expertly paints them with bright colors and designs that make you happy just to look at them. Although nichos can be made from mixed media, the media of choice for the Rodriguez family is wood.
Francis and Rodolfo have won prizes in the Fonart shows in Mexico City and their work is sold in museum stores and in the Department of Ethnic Studies at University of California San Diego. They also sell to galleries and private collectors worldwide.
They are currently working on a book project featuring their designs with folkart tales from the village they live in. As if all this wasn't enough to keep them busy, they also teach workshops for the children in Arocutín and Pátzcuaro.
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