THE FUENTES FAMILY (San Martín Tilcajete)

Epifanio Fuentes, his wife Laurencia Santiago Hernández, and their three eldest sons, Zeni, Efraín and Iván, are actively at work, at the height of their productivity.


Epifanio Fuentes Vázquez

Epifanio is one of the original and most successful carvers in San Martín.  He is best known for his charming, long-haired angels introduced in 1971, but also for human figures, (e.g., Zapata and mother nursing a child) and animals. His wife, Laurencia, paints most of his pieces. Epifanio’s reputation in the United States is deeply important to him, both because it enhances his financial prospects and because of his deep satisfaction in teaching others about his work. Epifanio works in several types of wood, including copal, cedar and “zompantle.” He underlines the importance of environmental conservation, especially the replenishment of trees cut down by woodcarvers.



Zeni Fuentes Santiago (son of Epifanio and Laurencia)

Zeni, Epifanio and Laurencia’s eldest son, is a talented carver in his own right whose favorite pieces are lions, armadillos and giraffes that he both carves and paints. The pieces he creates are dictated by the natural form of the wood.  Decorative painting is extremely important to him, a portion of the creative process with which his wife sometimes assists him.  Zeni has also developed a reputation as an instructor of woodcarving, especially for children.  The combination of his talents, his commanding personality, and his proficiency in English have led to many invitations to cities in the United States.  In addition, an instructional video has been produced in the United States featuring his work.



Efraín Fuentes Santiago (son of Epifanio and Laurencia)

Efraín is a cheerful young man who delights in his carved creations.  Cats are his favorites, although armadillos bearing their young and mermaids run a close second. He is also known for his angels, witches and skeletons, and, more recently, historical figures. Efraín was awarded honorable mention in FOFA’s 2008 young artists competition for his inventive two-sided “Cuauhtémoc.” This is a Nahuatl word meaning eagle that falls, as well as the name of an important pre-Hispanic figure who gave his life to defend his people. The eagle, frequently seen in the fields of Efraín s pueblo where farming is done, has been one of his favorite animals since childhood.


Iván Fuentes Santiago (son of Epifanio and Laurencia)

The youngest of the talented lineage of carvers in this family, Iván makes a host of animals, including giraffes, cats and coyotes, with facility and dexterity.  He is especially partial to anteaters. Ivan does his own decorative painting, inspired by colors he visualizes. He began to carve at the age of 7 watching his parents and grandfather. His first pieces were armadillos and small animals. Later his brother Zeni, who creates striking animals, influenced him.




Rubí Perla Fuentes Santiago and her husband Efraín Broa Vergara

Rubi Perla won honorable mention in FOFA’s 2008 young artists’ contest for decorative painting of “The Lion,” a collaboration between Rubí and her husband, Efraín Broa Vergara, who did the carving.  With talent and dexterity she decorated the piece, using tones of mustard and Indian red, as well as “hair” made from ixtle (a fiber that comes from the cactus) – a signature decorative feature of her family. She painted kittens on the lion’s ears, because there was ample space and they are her favorite animals. Rubí pays a great deal of attention to achieving harmony between the paint colors and the fiber that forms the mane.





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