Entertaining the Gods: Yarn paintings of the Mexican Huichol - Art Project

The Mexican Huichol (Wee-chol) is an indigenous community residing in the remote Sierra Madres Mountains in Mexico. Away from the modernized and Christian world, they are deeply connected to nature and depend on their close psychic connections with nature for their survival. The Huichol artworks nierikas or “mirror images of God, originally made on stones, served as aids to spiritual leaders in the Huichol community, as they communicated between the Gods of the Huichol peyote religion, and earthly life. The contemporary versions of Huichol artworks, now done in the form of yarn paintings, are key to maintaining their ancient traditions and the fabric of life, which are increasingly being threatened by encroaching industrialization. 

Yarn paintings of the Mexican Huichol community

While the materials have changed from stone to yarn, the Huichol art, which is bright, bold and joyful in colors, has changed very little. In 2009, the Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, received twenty-four Huichol yarn paintings, which inspired an art education project with elementary education major students in the School of fine art, University of Minnesota, Duluth. The students first learnt about the history of the Huichol community, the ethos, cultural context and contemporary practice of the Huichol art. Then they drew inspiration from these yarn paintings and made a variety of artworks of their own and learnt to integrate the Huichol art into K-12 arts lessons. 

Artworks made by students inspired by the Huichol yarn paintings

Artworks by these students were then displayed for exhibition. For more information on the project, please contact Associate Professor for Art and Design, School of Fine Art, University of Minnesota, Duluth Alison Aune