The Aguilar Family

Josefina Aguilar Alcantara

Painted Ceramics
Ocotlan de Morelos, Oaxaca

The Aguilars portray the daily life of rural Mexico in their painted red clay figurines. Isaura Alcantara Diaz (1925-1969) and Jesus Aguilar Revilla (1919-1977) began the tradition, which they passed to their four daughters who have developed their own distinctive styles.

 The Zagars started working with Isaura and Jesus’s daughter Josefina Aguilar (born 1945) in the 1970s. Josefina is known for her playful depiction of everyday life in small red clay figurines called muñecas. Since losing her sight, she now presides over the work of her children and grandchildren. Her art is included in collections around the world.

Woman With Isaiah, Angel and Creatures
Painted ceramic
12.50h x 6.50w x 4d in
31.75h x 16.51w x 10.16d cm
Location: Inside in the Middle Gallery


Concepcion Aguilar

The youngest of the famed Aguilar Sisters, Concepción Aguilar (born 1956) was a young woman when her mother died and never received artistic training from her mother, as her sisters had. Concepción bore the responsibility of caring for her younger brothers and alcoholic father after the last of her sisters left home. Concepción describes the years before her father’s death as a time of frequent hunger, suffering, and sadness. It is, perhaps, this period that shaped Concepción’s works in clay once she finally, almost reluctantly, began her work as a sculptor. Easily the most detailed and fantastical of her generation, Concepción’s work is also the darkest, both thematically and literally. Instead of the domestic scenes most often depicted in her elders’ artwork, Concepción favors fantastical bugs, bats, demons, and devils in scurrilous poses. Even in her most reverential, religious work, she chooses deep, velvety blacks as a contrasting background for the nearly fluorescent hues of her intricate designs. Unlike the other women in her family who left operation of their wood-burning kilns to the men, Concepción had to learn how to fire her own sculptures. In a family of creative iconoclasts, she remains an outlier, and one of PMG’s favorite folk artists.

A spider can be found near the huppa; a seated devil woman with a dress made of skulls, made by Concepción and Gabriela Sanchez Aguilar, can be found at the entrance to the Julia hallway; a catrina with a crown of cactus, made by Guadalupe Isaura Sanchez Aguilar, can be found in the long hallway; a conjoined figure of Isaiah and Julia, based on Isaiah’s design, can usually be found in the back gallery. 

See some of Concepcion’s work and a video of her working here

More information about individual members of the Aguilar family and their work can be found here.

Watch a short video about the Aguilar Family (English)
Mire un vídeo corto sobre la Familia Aguilar (Español)