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Saturday, June 3, 2023

World View from the Sister Cities – Art with a cause


In just a few short weeks, the Naperville Hispanic Heritage Festival, hosted on Sat., Sept. 17, by Naperville Sister Cities, will take place in and around the downtown area.

During the main event from 5PM to 9PM that evening, Central Park will be filled with dozens of Hispanic vendors and performers, eager to share their culture with you. From food, to art, to music, everyone who attends will be fully immersed in the rich history of Latin America.

Puech Ikots (“Words of Our People”), an artist collective co-founded by Carlos Orozco from Oaxaca, Mexico, plans to bring Alebrijes (ah-leh-bree-hehz) to this impressive event to share with visitors. If you have visited Cantigny recently, you have seen these unique, larger-than-life sculptures.

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Alebrijes are brightly colored, mythical creatures whose forms are a combination of various animals. In the 1930s, Mexico City’s famous piñata maker, Pedro Linares López, said he saw the fearsome beasts in the delirium of his fever dreams. When he awoke, the artist used his trade to bring them to life using papier-mâché.

Today, Orozco and the collective artists are creating their own Alebrijes using copalillo wood. It can take months to complete and the proceeds from each purchased piece go directly back to the Oaxacan artist. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico and is often disastrously affected by hurricanes and earthquakes. A purchase of an Alebrijes (smaller piece costing roughly $35-$50) can feed a family of four for up to a week.

I encourage everyone to learn more about the history of these fascinating works of art, and to attend the fest to see them in person.

For the complete schedule and even more info about the Naperville Hispanic Heritage Festival, visit www.napervillehispanicfest.com.

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Bill Donofrio
Bill Donofrio
Naperville resident Bill Donofrio is a former commissioner for Naperville Sister Cities Commission, passionate about making connections around the world. Contact Bill at foodarchitects@gmail.com.


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