Alebrijes Studio of Jacobo y Maria Angeles
The Alebrijes workshop of Jacobo y Maria Angeles has perfected the art known as Alebrijes, fantastical creatures carved of “copal” wood, over the last three decades. The artists combine the elements of nature, such as plants, flowers, and animals, acknowledging the Zapotec culture, with unbounded creativity and excellent color combinations. The fusion of wood carvings with the intricate painting have great expression and movement that some may even find spiritual.
We had the pleasure of meeting Jacobo Angeles at our store, No Mas! Productions, on April 9, 2017. This marks his second visit to No Mas! in Atlanta and we were fortunate to meet him in person and share our love for Mexico, the arts, sustainability, and life. Having previously been to his workshop in San Martin Tilcajete, Oaxaca, we have personally experienced the process of making Alebrijes.
Woodcarving of Alebrijes
The “copal” tree, which is also used as incense, supplies the wood used for carving Alebrijes. It is dried for months before being used. The woodcarver claims to let the branch “speak to him” and dictate what final form will result from the hours of carving it takes to make each Alebrije. Several levels of carving transpire; rough to fine are followed by intense sanding .
The Art of Painting Alebrijes
Certificate of Authenticity
After personally meeting Jacobo Angeles, we soon saw that his love for the art of Alebrijes is matched by his respect for people and the environment. When visiting his workshop in San Martin Tilcajete last year, it was obvious that he treated his employees with respect. From the clothes they wear to the beautiful “outdoor break room”, it was clear that Jacobo created something special in the management of his studio as well. His passion extends to realizing that his craft is limited by the material from which the Alebrijes are made: the copal tree. He plants numerous trees for each one he harvests, ensuring the craft for future generations. He is generous in sharing his story with others and teaching the locals so that his legacy lives on.