Fashion a Whimsical World from Wood
(a selection from CRIZMAC’s
Artzy’s World Curriculum)
Hi! The name’s Artzy. Pleased to meet you. I’m a zebra—in
case you couldn’t tell—and I’m from Mexico. Oh,
I know what you’re thinking—that guy doesn’t have
his stripes on straight. Everyone knows that zebras are from Africa,
not Mexico! But the truth is, I’m from Oaxaca (pronounced
wa-ha-ca), Mexico, and I’m part of a very special zoo—Zeny’s
Zoo. Let me introduce you.
This is Zeny Fuentes. He lives in the village of San Martín
Tilcajete, in the mountains of southern Mexico not far from Oaxaca
City. The people who live here farm the land, raise animals, and
The tradition of carving began years ago when the poor people of
the region made toys for their children out of wood. Over time,
some carvers became very skilled and began creating finely crafted
pieces. Zeny began carving when he was just eight years old. He
learned the craft from his father, Epifanio, who is one of the best-known
carvers in San Martín.
Oaxacan woodcarvers use a special type of wood called copal. When
the wood is green, it is soft and easy to carve. After it dries,
it does not spilt or crack as many other types of wood do.
To begin a carving, the bark is removed from the wood with a machete.
The general form of the figure is also carved with a machete, and
then a smaller knife is used to shape the contour and create the
details. Most carvings are made of several pieces of wood that are
joined with small nails.
Depending on the size and complexity, carving and assembling a figure
can take from several hours to several days. Next, the surface is
sanded and then painted. Painting is the final step—and the
most time consuming. Detailed patterns in bright contrasting colors
Zeny Fuentes is following in his father’s footsteps to make
beautiful woodcarvings in the artistic tradition of his village.
He carves a lot of different animals: armadillos, coyotes, frogs,
roosters, and much more. (Don’t tell the others, but I’m
pretty sure that zebras—like me—are his favorites!)
He’s always looking for new animals to carve and paints them
with new and different patterns and designs. In this way, our zoo
keeps growing and becomes more interesting and colorful every day!
Adapted from the poster series titled questionArte
by Marilyn Stewart PhD, published by CRIZMAC (Item # 1000 $62.00)
How was this artwork made?
• What materials were used to create this artwork?
• How were they used to create this artwork?
• What tools, if any, were used to help make the artwork?
What did the artist need to know in order to use the materials and
From the Teacher’s Guide of questionArte
“Talking about particular works of art, as well as about art
in general, can be the most satisfying activity associated with
learning about art and art-makers. Students gain new insights as
they examine and investigate works of art and offer possible interpretations
about meaning. Students learn from each other in the process of
discussing important questions about art. They learn about their
own art-making as they consider what they have accomplished through