Animalitos, along with the fantasy figures known Alebrijes, are Mexican folk art sculptures produced by the Zapotec culture artisans of the Oaxaca region. While these sculptures originated as folk art that people carved for amusement, in the 1980s the figures became popular in the tourist trade, and the Oaxacan artisans developed many different forms to appeal to visitors seeking locally produced artwork. Both Animalitos and Alebrijes tend to be highly individualized figures of animals and animal-like creatures, sometimes more naturalistic, sometimes highly stylized forms; the surface designs, meanwhile, are stylized, taking the form of elaborate and detailed floral and geometric motifs. These figures are still carved from local copal wood today, but bright acrylic house paints have replaced the earlier water-based paints, which faded over time. While the Alebrije sculptures are often inspired by traditional Zapotec mythological creatures, the Animalito sculptures may represent common animals, regional unusual wildlife, or simply favorite pets, such as this cat figure.
For more information, you may contact the researcher(s) noted in the title of this exhibit entry, or Dr. Billie Follensbee, the professor of the course, at BillieFollensbee@MissouriState.edu