"My father crafted toys like spinning tops and little carts, and I inherited my love of art from him… Together with my wife, Gloria, I have a small family workshop in our home."
"I'm Martin Sosa from a Zapotec community in the state of Oaxaca. My father crafted toys like spinning tops and little carts, and I inherited my love of art from him. Since I was a boy, I've crafted alebrijes — wood sculptures depicting fantastical and surreal creatures, painted by hand. Together with my wife, Gloria, I have a small family workshop in our home.
"When we were first married, we faced all kinds of situations and problems. We had nowhere to live, and this led me to emigrate to the U.S. for four years to work and seek a better future for my wife and our young son. But I realized I was missing our best moments — his first words, his first steps. I decided to return to Mexico and dedicate my time to handicrafts and I'm proud to say that they support our family.
"I do the woodcarving. My brother Silvano helps us to sand and polish, my oldest son does the finishing and cures the wood. Gloria decorates the alebrijes and paints them by hand with a harmony of colors.
"Together, we create a great variety of figurines. We like to innovate and craft objects that are useful as well as decorative, such as photo frames, jewelry boxes, pencil boxes, mirror frames and, of course, our traditional alebrijes.
"The crafting process begins with selecting the wood and thinking about what we will make with it. Then it must be carved, cured and smoothed before we paint the finished piece. This is the finishing touch. Every design we craft is made with love and dedication.
"We encourage and motivate our children. Our most enjoyable moments are spent with them and they are our reason to keep going every day.
"I love to share all I've learned, mainly with the children, and I hope they, in turn, will teach their own children.
"We are responsible, honest and committed to our work and to others. Our dream is to be able to contribute to the development of our community and to encourage our art forms.
"We hope that all of you will choose our designs and feel the same excitement as we do when crafting them, because we want to share a little of our culture as well as our love for Mexico's folk arts."