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Cat of the Sun
"Cat of the Sun" By Zeny & Renya
This intricately painted cat alebrije is graceful, beautiful, and strong. Hand carved from wood and hand painted with colorful and intricate designs, it is a unique work of art by skilled Mexican folk artist team Zeny & Renya
Carved from the Copal Tree when the wood is green, Alebrijes are careful shaped with machetes, kitchen and pocket knives. After carving, they must be carefully dried for up to 10 months. They are then carefully hand painted with intricate and colorful patterns.
Alejibre depict creatures real, imagined, and mythical, in a uniquely beautiful way.
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About the artist:
Hola! We're Zeny Fuentes and my wife, Reyna Piña. We're from a small town in Oaxaca, says Zeny
by way of introduction. We both come from families dedicated to carving and painting wood in a
style known as alebrije. Our parents were master carvers and they taught each of us when we were
children. We studied different things too, but what we really like to do is crafting alebrijes and
continuing our families' traditions.
I still recall the first piece I ever carved. It was a duck and it got sent to the Museum of Light in
San Antonio! Since then, I've had the good fortune to exhibit my work in different museums and
galleries in the U.S. — the first one was in Arizona when I was only 14 years old. Now Reyna and I
exhibit together, and some of our alebrijes are on display in Israel and in Germany.
Our work has also been sponsored by a prestigious paper company that depicts our wood
sculptures on their stationary.
Reyna and I have different styles when it comes to alebrijes and, when we got married, we decided
to combine our ideas, creating our own version — our artistic identity where color and sculpture
have a specific meaning. You could say we conceived a life filled with colors and a love for nature
as well as for our huge cultural heritage. And now we share our love for this art with our children,
who will preserve their family legacy.
What we have taken from our culture is that we left the trees and recovered our own life, which is
evident in every finished sculpture.
Our materials include reclaimed tree trunks and branches as well as roots from dead trees, or the
ones that we find in fields and rivers. We use the dust that comes off after sanding a piece to fill
in the cracks that a piece of wood may have, and we use the thorn of a maguey to paint the more
delicate motifs. Each alebrije is crafted by hand.
The government of Oaxaca and the Tourist Ministry have both recognized our work and named
us master wood artisans and our efforts to promote this cultural art form across the borders. In
2012, we received an award during Mexico's National Exhibition of Artesan Crafts (ENART) for
our sculpture 'The Wild Bull of the Sun and Day.'
We love spending our free time in the nearby fields and rivers and admiring nature while sitting
atop a mountain or hill. This is reflected in the work that we do, which is special and authentic.
Our inspiration comes from life's essential elements — the sun, the moon, the wind, water and
fire, as well as the main symbols of our Zapotec culture. They are related to animals, flowers,