Hand-Carved Wood Alebrije Hyena Sculpture from Mexico, "Green Hyena"
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In tones of green, burgundy, and purple, intricate motifs inspired by the pre-Hispanic Nahua peoples are painted by hand onto a majestic hyena. Mexican artisan Teresita Gonzalez creates this traditional alebrije sculpture, which is carved from copal wood.
It is said that Oaxaca's alebrije tradition descends directly from Mexico City papier mache artisan Pedro Linares (1906-1992). When he was 30, he became seriously ill and fell into a sort of coma. While he was unconscious, he had a most fantastic dream. He was caught between the land of the living and the dead; the place looked like a forest and was populated with creatures with body parts belonging to different animals. The beings repeatedly uttered the word alebrije, and when Linares woke up, he recreated these figures in vivid colors using papier mache techniques and called them alebrijes . His work became famous and eventually influenced artisans in the state of Oaxaca who decided to craft alebrijes using traditional wood carving methods and according to that region's world vision.
When Teresita was diagnosed with cancer shortly after she gave birth to her first child, doctors told her that her chances of survival were slim, but against all odds Teresita beat and eliminated the cancer that had grown in her. Although her medical treatments were essential to treating her cancer directly, Teresita attributes her recovery to laughter, positivity, and her ability to create art pieces every day. Each of the products that Teresita has made has uniquely given her a piece of strength to carry forward and live life to its absolute fullest. Teresita is known amongst her colleagues as a positive light and is a tremendous example of strength and virtue to all cancer survivors, mothers, and women worldwide.
An artist who creates from the heart, Teresita has turned a dangerous illness into a source of strength and positivity. After the birth of her first child, Teresita was diagnosed with cancer. "My medical treatments aided in my recovery, but I believe that laughter and her ability to make art have helped me to survive," she says. "I try to infuse each piece with my love of life, a positive attitude, and the appreciation I feel for the time I've been given." She is an inspiration to all cancer survivors, mothers, and women worldwide.
Teresita received local recognition and an honorable mention from the Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art Competition (FOFA)- an organization dedicated to promoting traditional handcrafts and folk art of the Mexican state of Oaxaca.
Teresita has continued to preserve her unique technique and pass down her alebrije traditions to the youth in her workshop and use culturally significant materials.