In a large, brick-lined yard where chickens and pigs used to roam, sits an old abandoned rusty truck. It still holds the desire for fixing up somewhere between its missing hood and flat tires. Federico’s uncle had wished to fix it up and return it to truck muscle glory. Around the yard is rebar sprouting from brick waiting for money to be sent to locals to continue to add onto and grow each building and wall.
Federico and I felt it could rise from the dead. Perhaps express some art spirit in the uncle’s wishes. We decided to collaborate and paint the truck bright pink and bring it back to life.
I shopped for and found many robotic bump-and-turn toys in Cholula a small town next to Coapa and I carefully deconstructed them one by one.
I wanted the toys to manifest the uncles and their spirits in the random drawings.
The robotic toys were further deconstructed, rewired into a totem called the Angel of Car Death, (Carro Angel de Muerte) now rises from the empty hood, where the motor would be.
The toys in the process of deconstruction, also produced two drawings one eerily displayed a skull. The robotic toys were wired to and controlled by an Arduino microcontroller.
All were displayed in the Concina de Humo Gallery, Federico’s mom’s smoke kitchen turned into a gallery. I LOVE Mexico and the culture.
As I was building the robotic totem, I felt It needed feathers to reflect the turkeys and chickens in every yard to speak back to the altars in each home. Feathered angel wings attached to each car part, we’re going to speak to this devoted city. A poet resident Matthew Sibley with excellent Spanish asked the uncle and Aurelia Xique if they had waste chicken feathers. Soon Federico’s’ 73 years old grandmother arrived with a bag of freshly plucked chicken feathers.
I felt bad that perhaps the chicken has been plucked for this artwork, though happy the chicken would not go to waste in this community where free-range chickens are part of many family meals.
Federico purchased other colored feathers in Cholula many with bright colors and from varieties of exotic birds and I glued them to the totem and the rewired mechanical toys, which angelized the work making cars into angels. Even mechanical machine guns sticking out from attack toy helicopters were made more pious.
At dark, the totem was turned onto the joy of the children and families.
We found a wonderful city and a warm community with the extended family of Federico Cuatlacuatl and so many talented artists. Thiwell-fundeded residency was about using what is at hand and available in the community and creating art.
It was organized by Federico with the support of the Sophia Quintara Arts Center in Toledo Ohio. Everyone just stops in the streets including Federico Cuatlacuatl grandfather (the man that the residency was named after) with extended conversations, without the pressure and speed of modern society.
There are 365 churches in Cholula alone and each house has a shrine in this deeply devout and loving community.