If you’ve visited Mexico City recently, you might have come face to face with a towering dragon, ferocious dinosaur or some other gigantic monster. That’s because over the next week and a half, the city is hosting the annual Alebrije Festival, which draws folk artists from across the country.
Alebrijes are a traditional form of Mexican art, originating from the southern state of Oaxaca. Often made of paper mache or wood, alebrijes depict colourful, imaginary creatures. They’re often combinations of various animals, and come in all shapes and sizes.
This year’s festival kicked off on Saturday, when artists took their creations on a 5.5 kilometre parade around the city centre.
DSF was on the ground, speaking to artists about their creations.
Bertin Juarez Rodriguez and other students from the Technologico de Estudios Superiores Huixquilucan created this amazing creature, based on their university’s mascot.
“[Alebrijes are] a symbol of Mexican folklore. They represent where we come from,” he said.
The creator of this piece, Lorena Hernandez, said alebrijes are often works of improvisation, using basic materials to build amazing creations. “It’s a type of art where you need to work with materials that are easy to get,” Hernandez said.
Oscar Becerra (L) and Ruben Castillo (R) put this piece together.
“It doesn’t have a special significance, it’s just a fantastic mix of animals,” said Becerra.
“This type of art has been around for so long. It’s derived from old religious and folk art. And of course, it has an element of fantasy,” he said.
Alebrije Artist Salvador Vilchis (L) said, “An alebrije of this size takes at least two to three months to make.” “This form of art is unique to Mexico,” Vilchis said.
“Pretty unique, right?” said artist Rodrigo Rodriguez, who created this monster with Emanuel Zarate.
“It’s the head of a bird, with the hands of an insect and … well it’s a thousand animals!”
The alebrije parade was also an opportunity for dozens of local performers to come out, and show off some of the best of Mexican culture.