Huichol Art on Wheels

Vochol: Huichol Art on Wheels offers the Museum an opportunity to highlight the artistic ingenuity of one of the many indigenous cultures of Mexico. The Huichol culture includes approximately 26,000 people who live in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Durango, and Zacatecas. They have traditionally been a nomadic culture, but in more recent times they have settled into more permanent residences in Western Mexico. Some people who identify as Huichol live in rather traditional ways in isolated, rural communities, while others have migrated to larger cities such as Guadalajara for more diverse economic opportunities. Outsiders are rarely guaranteed full access to the sacred customs of the Huichol though Mexican and foreign born-anthropologists, art historians, and others have conducted various studies of the group for a number of decades. Along with the many distinctive customs that characterize their culture is a dedication to the visual arts that is realized most often in the forms of yarn paintings or beadwork applied to select objects. The Huichol are a deeply spiritual people, and much of their traditional artistic output is an extension of their faith. This particular work combines the traditions of the Huichol with an icon of popular culture, the Volkswagen Beetle. Within many Huichol works, as is the case with Vochol, there can be references to animals such as deer (the most revered of all animals), peyote (used as a part of a sacred ritual), and various abstract designs.

 Vochol’sbright colors and intricate details meld popular culture and historic tradition in a singular work of art. The name derives from “vocho,” a popular term for the Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico, and “Huichol,” the common name of the Wirrárika indigenous group. This 1990 Beetle was covered in 2,277,000 beads applied by eight artisans from two Huichol families, who finished their work in late 2010. This installation at The San Diego Museum of Art officially marks the beginning of the international tour of Vochol.

Vochol ®, photographed by Alejandro Piedra Buena, Copyright 2010 Museo Arte Popular