Juan Hernández Arzaluz & Saed Vásquez, Metepec, Mexico
Juan works with his brother, Saed Vasquez, and his wife, Antonia Hernández Arzaluz, constructing incredibly intricate miniature Trees of Life.
Antonia won Best of Show in Luna de Metepec. There are only 4 or 5 women today making Arboles de la Vida.
Mexican ceramic tradition dates back to the ancient Olmec culture. Since then, other cultures, including the Aztecs, Mixtecs, and Spaniards helped evolve these traditions into the regional styles of today. The Arbol de la Vida, or Tree of Life, is a distinctive art form from the state of Metepec. They get their name from the original versions of the trees, which explained the origins of life.
The trees are made of clay with a flat base. The leaves, fruit, figures and/or animals are all attached by wire to the tree. They are painted with aniline or acrylic paints, however, many trees are now left unpainted, often made with red terracotta, for a more distinctive look. The Arboles have crossed over into other aspects of Mexican culture; Day of the Dead and Nativity trees have recently become popular.
Arboles de la Vida have become one of the most well known objects in Mexican folk art. Today they are sought after by art collectors from all over the world. Many of Juan's trees take 20 days to make. Out of the ten children in the Hernandez family, only two have dedicated their talents to making Arboles de la Vida.
6 de Mayo #196, Barrio de San Mateo
722 271 2215 or 722 232 3821 (workshop)