Lower School students used their imagination, creativity, and fine motor skills during a three-month Alebrijes project in art class.
Alebrijes are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical or mythical creatures generally carved from wood or made of papier-mache. Lower School Art Teacher Megan Mercado challenged her students to sculpt their Alebrijes out of air-dry clay.
The boys first learned about the renowned Indigenous Mexican artist Pablo Linares and his magical creations. Before they began their sculptures, they created detailed designs to serve as blueprints for their animals.
The final creations combine a minimum of two animals. The animals can be real or mythical, extinct, or living, mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and/or marine life. The final Alebrije designs must also be brightly colored and covered in various patterns. Students learned several drawing and painting techniques for this portion of the assignment.
Next, they began work on their sculptures. “The boys practiced sculpting using a workbook that helped them learn to make ten basic shapes and animals and other sculpture techniques like making slabs, coils, applique, and relief sculptures. Once the boys grasp the basic sculpture techniques, they make a maquette or miniature model of their Alebrije,” Mercado explained.
“Everyone’s looks really good because we went through different steps and followed the instructions. This is a really cool clay project to start in the Lower School because it lets people make what they want to make. It lets their imagination go,” Clausen Smith ’29 said.
The next step was to create their sculpture's armature, which serves as a base or skeleton made from wire and aluminum foil to support their sculptures. The boys then cover the armature in clay and decorate their final Alebrije.
“To see them progress and see their confidence progress and see them overcome their challenges makes me really happy because it forces them to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills that I want them to build,” Mercado said.