Daring Alebrije-Inspired Sculptures in the MHMS School Library
Ms. Rachel Ludlow, super talented Art Teacher, and her amazing kids installed an art exhibition in the MHMS Daring School Library the other day. From Ms. Ludlow: “7th grade art students researched alebrije sculptures that were originally created by Pedro Linares Lopez, a Mexican artist. Alebrije sculptures show imaginative, hybrid creatures made of parts of different animals. Students brainstormed animal symbols that represented their personalities (example: quiet like a mouse) and combined these creatures together to create an original alebrije-inspired creature.
After sketching their ideas, students built armatures, or skeletons, for their creatures with recycled items like plastic bottles, newspaper and cardboard. Then, students used the paper mache technique of dipping strips of newspaper and paper towel in glue and applying it to the armature to create a “skin” that could be painted when dry. Students were given only yellow, blue, red, black and white paint and had to mix their custom colors. Patterns and line details were added to give the sculptures more personality! Enjoy!”
What is an alebrije? An alebrije (ala-bree-hey) is a mythical creature made of parts of different animals. Alebrije is a term used to describe a wild or fanciful creature that exists only in the imagination.
Who made the first alebrijes? Alebrijes were originally the creation of Mexican artist Pedro Linares Lopez (1906-1992) who started sculpting wild animal sculptures in the 1940’s and called them alebrijes. Pedro Linares started as a skilled carton judas and figurine-maker for Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and many other artist from de Academia de San Carlos. The art form of alebrijes were created by Pedro Linares after he became ill at 30 years old, in México City, his own unique alebrijes came out of a dream, depicting his death and rebirth in a mountainous setting inhabited by these fierce creatures.
Why did Pedro Linares Lopez make alebrijes? Pedro’s alebrijes were based on dreams and hallucinations he experienced while ill at age 30. While he was in bed, unconscious, Pedro dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest. There were trees, animals, clouds, sky, rocks, etc.; he felt no pain and was very happy in this dream world. Suddenly, rocks, clouds and animals turned into strange, unknown animals. All of them were shouting just one word, louder and louder: “Alebrijes, Alebrijes, Alebrijes!”
How did Pedro make alebrijes sculptures? When Linares could get out of bed, he started to remember his dream and he wanted his family and everybody to know about the animals he saw, so he used paper, reeds, and wire to create armatures for the alebrijes. Pedro covered the armatures using the paper mache technique. Sheets of plain brown paper or newspaper were added in layers to cover the frame until it was firm. The figure then had to dry thoroughly. In Mexico, the sunny weather speeds up this process. The final figure was first painted white. Then colorful painting and intricate patterns were added. He painted them as he saw them in his dream.