The Xuana Family (San Martín Tilcajete)

Justo Xuana Luis and his Daughters, Silvia and Justina

Justo is known for his whimsical miniatures, such as a mother giraffe seated on an armchair reading a story to her attentive baby giraffe, and a band composed of a lively upright wolf, dog and anteater that plays the trumpet. Justo also specializes in nativity scenes, priding himself on his carving of the faces of the Three Kings.  These can be ordered as miniatures, as well as in an array of larger sizes.

Unlike the vast majority of woodcarving families in which females do not carve, one of Justo’s daughters, Silvia, has developed her own line of work and his other daughter, Justina, won first prize in FOFA’s 2008 young artists competition in the category of decorative painting of woodcarving, with her “Devil’s Mask.” With this piece she wished to convey the occult and the mysterious, as well as to capture many elements that reflect her own origins: horns represented by birds, the mouth created by the beak of an eagle, and cheeks formed by a cat and a panther.

Ana Xuana Velasco (daughter of Abad and niece of Justo)

Ana carves outstanding miniatures, specializing in masks (standard size masks are her father’s specialty) and animals. The extraordinary delicacy of Ana’s museum quality carved and painted masks and other miniatures – requiring enormous concentration and deftness of hand to work on such a small scale —  is hard to imagine. She creates a large spectrum of pieces, her favorites being mermaids, crocodiles and turtles. While other members of the family carve miniatures and other larger pieces, Ana devotes herself entirely to miniatures.


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The PBS Peabody award winning documentary series "Craft in America" filmed portions of two excellent programs in Oaxaca, one -- "Neighbors" -- partially in collaboration with FOFA. These programs explore connections through craft between Mexico and the United States.

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Oaxacan Popular Arts in the New Millennium, Nurturing Young Artists

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