Hecho en México highlights the work of Mexican folk artists featured throughout Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG). These artists create handmade works that reflect the stories, people, and traditions of their particular region, and their artistic skills are passed down through generations, often within families. From ceramics to papier-mâché to paintings, these works are infused with talent and beauty. By sharing this art, PMG highlights folk art’s importance in Mexican communities and elevates its significance within the greater art world.
Hecho en México features ceramic work by the Aguilar Family and the García Family, paintings by the Lorenzo Family, papier-mâché pieces by Joel García, and ceramic pieces and paintings by Luis Valencia.
Isaiah Zagar, the creator of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) and his wife Julia first connected with folk artists in the 1960s when they worked in Peru as Peace Corps volunteers. Many of the folk art pieces in this exhibition and throughout the permanent installation at PMG are special collaborative commissions between Isaiah and the artists. These partnerships sometimes continue for years and result in hundreds of unique pieces that Isaiah installs in his work.
PMG staff began taking trips to Mexico in 2016 to carry on the Zagars’ legacy of working with Mexican folk artists. This has allowed us to more accurately share their stories and traditions with the public and recognize them for their artwork. Many of the objects displayed in this exhibition are recent purchases. Other new works have been added throughout the sculpture garden as old ones deteriorate or break.
Museums, art scholars, and curators often label folk, self-taught, and women or non-white populations as “craft” or “outsider” artists instead of “high” or “fine” art. PMG rejects these labels and respects artistic talent in all of its variations and sources. The folk artists featured in this exhibition have spent their entire lives mastering their materials, enriching traditional techniques, and perfecting the business savvy needed to sell their work.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens’ mission is to champion art that has typically been dismissed in mainstream culture and highlight the remarkable contributions these artists bring to our communities. Our site features thousands of permanently installed folk artworks from Mexico and we celebrate these artists every day.
Mexican folk artists’ income depends almost solely on tourism and traveling collectors. COVID-19 has had devastating effects on the tourism industry and severed families’ financial lifelines overnight. Since March 2020 artists have had little to no sales and no sustainable income, putting them in extreme economic jeopardy. In normal times, PMG is able to help by providing reliable income streams for these artists through commissions and purchasing new objects for our preservation initiatives. Unfortunately, PMG’s own financial struggles due to COVID-19 have made it impossible for us to purchase new work from the folk artists featured in this exhibition at this time.
Please consider directly supporting the artists featured in this exhibition by donating to our COVID-19 Folk Art Relief Fund by following this link. 100% of donations made will be used to commission new artwork to keep these talented artists creating and earning during this difficult time.