I drove from Laramie to Denver to fetch Kenton today—he insisted on flying from Idaho to see my museum installation firsthand. A dazzling work of public art awaited at the Jeppesen Terminal.
A 1990 Volkswagen Beetle—nearly every inch decorated with more than two million beads. To be exact, approximately, 2,227,000 beads! Embedded into resin, one at a time! Took over 9,000 hours to complete.
Eight indigenous artists spent more than 9,400 hours creating Vochol. It’s name is Vocho, a combination of “Vocho”—a slang term in Mexico for a VW Beetle, and the tribal name for “Huichol,” the artist’s people who makes their home in west-central Mexico.
What a marvel! The vivid colors and images blend pop culture and historic iconography of the deeply spiritual Huichol. Some of the motifs and their significance: the sacred cactus represents wisdom and knowledge; the sun, the grandfather of fire; the eagle, the medium of communication between god and humankind.
And talk about an icon! The classic VW bug has been ever-present in Mexico City for years, ever-present as cabs zipping city streets and country roads. By the end of the year, their licenses expire and will no longer be permitted.
A bit more history: The year 1810 is featured on the driver’s side of the car, a nod to the year associated with the beginning of Mexico’s transition to Independence.
The one-of-a-kind artwork began its US tour at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in March and in September will move on to Europe. After touring internationally, it will be auctioned off with the proceeds used for promoting other native Mexican artists.
Vochol is a collaborative effort of the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City, the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, the Embassy of Mexico and the Mexican Cultural Institute.
This dazzling objet d´art even has its own blog — Vochol.