Arianna, Age 11
Arianna, Age 11

Alebrijes of St. Francis

CAM collaborated with St. Francis Community Services summer camp to offer education and art activities to immigrant communities. Visual art served as a vehicle to discuss important topics such as cultural identity, empowerment, and advocacy.

Through hands-on art-making, the students learned the importance of their bicultural identities, and to recognize and embrace those identities. Sponsored by CAM, interns Andrea Rodriguez Gonzalez and Paola Alejandra Arizpe Flores, from the University of Monterrey, Mexico, used the Mexican legend of the alebrijes to encourage the students’ creativity.

As the story is told, in 1936, Pedro Linares, a 30-year-old craftsman, became ill and lost consciousness. In his dream, he encountered animals, rocks, and trees in a dark forest. These beings began to elevate and transform into bizarre creatures. They made terrible sounds and screamed  “Alebrijes! Alebrijes! Alebrijes!” After Linares recovered, he gave life to his vision through his art. This popular Mexican legend was used in the Disney-Pixar film Coco, where spiritual guardians are depicted as colorful alebrijes

The legend served as inspiration for the children. The students made creatures of all colors, many of them a composite of more than one animal. The students talked about their reasons for the animals they chose, and connected their art with the alebrijes legend. They became more aware of the multiplicity of cultural identities they engaged with on a daily basis, in their homes, schools, and even in themselves. 

The student artwork is available on the ArtReach Facebook page. View the full album here.

The Universidad de Monterrey Student Summer Internship is funded by the Incarnate Word Foundation.