Beaded Volkswagen with Mexican Indian Art to Embarks on Tour in 2012

Insiders Share In-Depth Story Behind the Making of the Beaded Car; Huichol Indians Announce Upcoming Mural Project; Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid Among Tour Target Cities

In an exclusive interview with MexicoToday, executives from the Museum of Popular Art in Mexico City and father and daughter Huichol Indians behind the making of a unique Mexican Huichol indian-inspired beaded Volkswagen car announced the target U.S. and European cities where the beaded Volkswagen will be potentially touring in 2012, and share insights about the story behind the project, an exclusive walkthrough of what each Huichol symbol means on the car, and a call to learn and appreciate the value of the unique art, religious sites, and the role of women in the Huichol culture.

Huichol Indians from the Mexican states of Jalisco and Nayarit spent more than 8 months to fully decorate a Volkswagen Beetle car with 200 pounds of beads and a special polymer glue, as reported by CBSNews’ WorldWatch. Following a multi-city tour in Mexico this year, the beaded Volkswagen, which includes artistic designs of the Huichol Indian culture, is scheduled to tour around different key cities in the United States and Europe in 2012. Cecilia Barbara de Moctezuma, President of the Association of Friends for the Museum of Popular Art, shared in exclusive with MexicoToday that they have already received a request from the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and are in the process of finalizing plans. Barbara de Moctezuma also added, “We are also talking to museums in Los Angeles, San Diego and possibly Atlanta. Sometime in 2012 we plan to bring the car to Paris, Berlin, and we’ll see about also going to London and Madrid.”

In talking about how the idea of beading a Volkswagen came up, Barbara de Moctezuma said, “We are constantly coming up with projects to raise money so that the museum can have exhibitions and be a lively museum.  Our president was in Miami attending an auction where a car decorated with little mirrors got a lot of interest and was auctioned at a very good price. When she came back to Mexico, she proposed us to come up with ideas on something that was 100 percent Mexican. So to largely promote the work of the Huichol Indians to the world, we chose to decorate a Volkswagen.”

What the Huichol Designs on the Car Mean

In an exclusive walkthrough of the car, Francisco Bautista, one of the Huichol Indians who lead the beading of the Volkswagen, shared what each of the artistic representations on the car meant in the Huichol culture. Below are some examples of the Huichol symbolism on the car:

  • The eagle represents the medium of communication between the gods and humans.
  • The head of a reindeer and the “jicori” (or sacred cactus) which represents wisdom and knowledge are two of the offerings drawn and made to the Huichol elder brother of knowledge.
  • The Sun drawn on the ceiling of the car is the Huichol grandfather of fire as one of the four cardinal points and representing one of the four elements – water, earth, air, and fire.
  • Behind the Volkswagen there is a representation of a flood scene representing the element of water. Shows the  Arch of Noah with a person and a dog, and the head of the reindeer at the front of the boat. On top of the boat is a cloud with a representation of “Nacahue”, mother of all gods and Mother Nature who made the flood happen.
  • The Huicholes from Nayarit designed one of the sides of the car with text written in Huichol language celebrating the bicentennial of the Mexican Independence.
  • The tires includes symbolism of the two-headed eagle which in Huichol culture means it has double vision. The tires also have designs of the “jicori” (or sacred cactus), and scorpions which represent the guardians of the grandfather the Sun.
  • The car seats, board, and steering wheel are fully decorated and upholstered with Huichol designs and symbolism.

Preserving and Promoting the Huichol Culture

When asked about the Huichol culture and how it is being preserved since its ancestors, Bautista made a call of action to learn and value their indigenous culture, “I would like to call Mexicans to appreciate further the value of the art we bring, and to start promoting our Wixarika culture, to recognize it, to know about it, and to value, and respect our sacred places that have been there for many centuries that we have maintained throughout many years.” Baustista also added, “We represent the maximum expression to our municipality, our state, as well as our country”

The beaded car also represents the wonderful textile and crafts of the Huichol indian women. Francisco Bautista’s daughter, who decorated the top front section of the car, told MexicoToday, “I am very proud to be part of this project because it is something that will transcend to the world, and we will be known internationally. Even more so as a woman as many times we are often not recognized for the work we do. [Art] is what I really love doing. It is something I gladly do with a lot of respect to my culture precisely because I like it and I would like people from abroad to like it as well,” she added.

Barbara de Moctezuma added, “We were pleasantly surprised that the Huichol Indians are very spiritual, and they decided to include the cosmology on how they see the world, how they think, all the animals that are part of their lives, and the symbolism into the beaded car.”

The beaded car is a great example of a way the Museum of Popular Art supports and promotes popular arts and crafts, and raise awareness about the value it brings to contemporary designs for Mexicans, people abroad, and most importantly for the universal culture. The Museum’s director Walther Boelsterly said, “One of the goals of the Museum of Popular Art is to preserve traditions, the intrinsic relationship between the biodiversity and crafts, as well as promote new projects for artisans and for craftsmen in our country”. He added, “The artisans from Nayarit and Jalisco have been carrying the pre-Hispanic culture through generations in their regions, carrying with them the biodiversity from their region and transferring those images into their artisan tools, and how those tools have an intrinsic aesthetics and design, and how these shapes and colors are brought into contemporary designs and arts.”

The Next Huichol Project: A Mural with Sacred Religious Representations in Guadalajara, Jalisco

When asked about what is the next project the Huichol Indians will plan to do, Francisco Bautista proudly shares his upcoming work, “Our next project will be a mural that will express all our sacred places which are spread in different locations throughout our country. We would like to throw [the representation of] all our sacred places into a piece of art, which we will soon plan to deliver. The mural  will be located in Guadalajara, Jalisco in one of the museums being built by our municipality, which is one of the areas, we, the Huicholes, live. We hope soon it is approved and we will have a piece of art to share with you all.”

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