Rubí Fuentes and her husband, Efraín Broa, participated and received honorable mention in FOFA’s first young artist’s competition in 2008. Their submission was a whimsical wooden lion carved by Efraín and painstakingly painted by Rubí. The work caught the eye of an American children’s book writer visiting the exhibit of young competitors. A replica of the lion was commissioned by the author and now graces the cover of the children’s book, Colores de la vida (Cinco Puntos Press 2011). Scholastic later purchased the paper back publishing rights of this volume.
Rubí and Efraín’s story is an unusual one for the folk art world. Rubí is from a distinguished family of woodcarvers in San Martín Tilcajete. Her grandfather Xenén and her father, Epifanio are considered key members of the early wood carving movement. All of Rubí’s brothers and sisters derive a portion of their income from creation of wood carvings. Brother Efraín, woodcarving 2008, and sister Magalí, painting 2011 are also honorable mention recipients of the Young Artist’s Competitions.
However, Efraín, Rubí’s husband, from the State of Morelos was not born into an artisanal family. The couple met in Decatur, GA in 2000 when Rubí was working as an artist-in-residence at the folk art store Mingei. Efrain was working in Atlanta. Missing Mexico h decided to stop by. The pair fell in love and shortly thereafter returned to Oaxaca to being their married life in the Fuentes family compound. Rubí taught Efraín how to carve with a machete. He quickly won the admiration of her family for his abilities.
Today, Rubí and Efraín work from home. The craft is slowly being transmitted to their children Laura, Efraín Jr. and Santiago as they watch and assist their parents with small tasks.
Through the competition and exhibit, FOFA’s mission of promoting and preserving Oaxacan folk art has been realized. Images of Oaxacan folk art will now grace the covers and pages of thousands of children’s books. A new use has been found for Oaxacan folk art in the educational market. Interest in the couple’s work has also been piqued. At a time of decreased sales for Oaxacan artists, Rubí and Efraín report consistent orders from collectors around the world.