Arrazola is a small village located in one the state of Oaxaca’s Central Valleys. Like many other towns in the region, a large portion of the residents in Arrazola are artisans that specialize in the production of a specific artifact. The village of Arrazola is famous for alebrijes, wooden figurines carved into fantastic animals and painted in bright colors. Two years ago, my family traveled throughout the state of Oaxaca. We have visited our family in Mexico nearly every summer, but usually stay with relatives in Mexico City. Traveling around Oaxaca was a special experience, as I was able to better appreciate the incredible cultural and historical heritage of the state and of the country I consider a second home. While walking around Arrazola, my mother and I stopped at the home of Moises Jiménez. A master woodcarver himself, Moises is also the grandson of Manuel Jiménez, the man who began carving alebrijes out of wood and ultimately made them central to Oaxacan culture. Moises showed us around his studio and described how he fabricated alebrijes, a careful process designed by his grandfather and preserved by Moises. It was humbling to talk to him and the other artisans in Arrazola who are so talented and devoted to their craft. My family came away with several alebrijes that day. One of these, a small cobalt blue cat with lilac flowers and bright green leaves, is perched on a shelf in my room.
– Aida Piccato