The Wixárika people, commonly referred to as the Huichol, traditionally reside in Western Mexico. Since the 1960s, Wixárika artists have garnered international acclaim for their paintings (nierakate) composed of colorful yarn attached to wooden boards with beeswax. Inspired by mythology and shamanic visions associated with the use of the hallucinogenic “divine cactus,” peyote (Lophophora williamsii), the paintings are thickly populated with images of sacred animals, humanoid ancestral figures, holy plants, and important ritual objects. Highlighted in this exhibition are early works by Ramón Medina Silva, a Wixárika artist who played a major role in the global popularization of nierakate. A master at translating belief and ritual into stunningly arranged strands of spun fiber, Silva’s yarn paintings pulse with vivid depictions of the Wixárika cosmos.
Image credit: José Benítez Sánchez, Wixárika (Huichol) yarn painting (detail), 2005. Fowler Museum at UCLA, Gift of Ronald Lanyi.