Cartoneria, a type of Mexican papier-mâché art, arrived in Mexico in the 17th century. The concept was brought to Mexico by Spanish priests who wished to decorate Mexican churches for holidays. First created for religious significance, the cartoneria objects quickly gained popularity. Over time, Mexican cartoneria continued to use much of the same simple materials of paste, cardboard, and tissue paper but evolved from strictly religious purposes into a diverse array of subjects -- toys and dolls, replicas of people and objects from popular culture, festival figures like the popular Judas cartoneria, Day of the Dead skeletons, and fantastical animals called alebrije.
The Museum of International Folk Art’s first exhibition to focus exclusively on an art of Mexico in many years, Cartoneria will focus on whimsical historic sculptures in the Museum of International Folk Art’s permanent collection -- many of which were collected by Alexander Girard and have never been shown in the Museum of International Folk Art’s galleries. Cartoneria will exhibit these historic works with the work of contemporary Mexican cartoneria makers, showing that cartoneria is a vital, living tradition; Mexican artists-in-residence will create work in the galleries, highlighting the creativity of cartoneria artists today. Visiting Mexican artists will be invited to be artists-in-residence and work in the gallery at the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe. Demonstrations by these artists are part of this exhibition’s programming.
Photo credit: Standing Skeleton, Felipe Linares, c. 1994 Museum of International Folk Art, Gift of Mark Yale Harris.