I’ve been collecting Mexican folk art for years, especially alebrijes (wood animals) and Josefina Aguilar’s clay figurines (the one to the right is my favorite). There’s something about the wild abandon of folk art, the refusal to bow to any academy or rigid criteria, the sense that anything goes as long as it fills the artist’s soul with joy, that makes me happy.
It’s probably fitting to talk about that on Cinco de Mayo since the date celebrates an improbable victory over a sophisticated invading force (the French this time) that led to renewed confidence and joy in the defending army. Cinco de Mayo has been co-opted into an American drinking holiday that a lot of people think is Mexico’s Independence Day (that’s Sept. 16) so there’s the whole appropriation problem again, but if we think of it as a time to raise a glass to indomitable spirit and the great joy of freedom, a kind of folk-art-as-history holiday, I think we’re okay.
Also, in case I didn’t make myself clear, Mexican folk art makes me wildly happy. What made you happy this week?