Where My Hands Meet Tradition

By María Bayardo

I live in Mexico, a place full of ancient sculpture.

Since the Maya, Aztec, Olmec and all the other pre-Colombian civilizations, Mexico has had a rich tradition that has inspired great artists.

Ever since the great Muralism, there are many painters. With artists like Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, and then others to come like Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toledo, Saturnino Herrán, Mexico has a special place in the art world.

Even artists like Henry Moore have been inspired in Mexican sculpture. Such is the case with the Chac Mool, one of the most important Mayan sculptures.

After the richness of bas-relieves and sculptures of ancient times, we’ve had sculptors like Jose Luis Cuevas, Toledo, Juan Soriano, and more recently Javier Marín, Alejandro Colunga, and many more, trying to create modern sculptures to accompany the ancient treasures. When I was young, I was exposed to my grandfather’s sculptures; he used to carve on wood.

I’ve traveled all over, especially in Mexico, where I’ve seen great architecture and art including bas-relieves and sculptures in the pyramids. Additionally, there is a great artisan tradition: pottery, ceramic, paper mache , and “alebrijes”, which are great sculptures made out of wood and painted with a whole lot of detail. I hold these various traditions close to me, affecting me like a seed planted inside and waiting to emerge.

I was always surrounded by color and culture, textures, and natural shapes that inspired me.

Six years ago, I studied sculpture at Escuela Superior de Artes y Oficios en Toledo, Spain, and it seemed very easy to make what I was asked to make. It is a very classic school, so I learned the basis of the human body, textures, proportion and movement. However, I got bored of copying and decided to make more abstract figures. I’ve been having fun ever since.

Mostly, I let my hands talk and shush my brain. I often think it is my grandfather’s hands working!