Huichol Art Reinterpreted

This series of decorative illustrations was inspired by the art of the Huichol (Wixaritari) indigenous group who inhabit a small mountainous area in western Mexico. Huichols depict their mythology using bright colors and sacred symbols including peyote, corn, deer, snakes, eagles, bees, scorpions, flowers, the sun, stars and other abstract shapes that represent deities, important themes and significant forces of nature. The eyes I use on most of the living beings (as well the prominent Sun God figures) throughout these illustrations represent the central Huichol theme of nierika, which can be thought of as the gift of sight, deep visionary wisdom, or the ability to see the inner form of the world.

Pilgrimage to the Sun

Pilgrimage to the Sun

Every year, some Huichols undertake a sacred pilgrimage east to Wirikuta, the place in San Luis Potosí near Real de Catorce where they believe life began. Huichols travel more than 550 km to gather peyote (hikuli), the hallucinogenic cactus that they consider one of their primary deities and that they ingest as a sacrament to induce visions and attain nierika. This illustration weaves images of the Huichols’ journey with symbols of peyote (the small green circular forms) and corn plants along with the Sun God as a central creator figure and assorted animals important in their mythology.

Vision Quest 1

Vision Quest

Leading the sacred pilgrimage to Wirikuta and the circular peyote dance (hikuli neixa) are shamans, who practice sacrifice and austerity in addition to ingesting peyote order to attain nierika. In this illustration, two advanced shamans carrying feathered healing wands (muwieri) lead the ceremonial dance, their central objective being the gift of sight. The two-headed eagle at the top of the image represents the shaman’s ability to see in all directions, and to reinforce this idea of nierika I have placed an eye in the center of a rhombus (tskuri), which is often thought of as a god’s eye but to the Huichols symbolizes the world. Below are additional variations of this design:

Vision Quest 2

Vision Quest 3

Vision Quest 5

Vision Quest 4

More Phoenix Jewels

This week’s post features two more illustrations in my Mid-Century Modern Architecture series, which pays homage to landmark structures from the ’50s that continue to grace the Valley of the Sun:

Valley Ho

Valley Ho

This cool jewel of modern architecture in downtown Scottsdale — designed by architect Edward Varney — was built in 1956. Hollywood celebrities flocked to the hotel in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but it had lost a bit of its shine by the 1970s. Happily, Westroc Hospitality purchased the property and reopened the Hotel Valley Ho in 2005 after extensive restoration, and the building is now as Mid-Century marvelous as ever.

David Wright House

David Wright House

Frank Lloyd Wright designed this unusual spiraling home for his son David and daughter-in-law Gladys. Built in 1952 in a former citrus grove at the base of Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain, the house offers 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and Arcadia neighborhood. Thanks to historic preservation efforts, Wright’s final residential masterpiece now serves as an educational and event space.

Route 66 Revisited

Ah, the Mother Road. Nothing captures the imagination of Mid-Century motoring Americana like Route 66. These illustrations are part of a series inspired by the iconic American highway that stretched more than 2,000 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles and served as a thoroughfare to freedom for families, road warriors and dreamers alike from its opening in 1926 through its heyday in the 1940s through 1960s. Even though the U.S. federal highway system made the road largely obsolete by 1985, history buffs can still get their kicks on portions of the old road that deliver cityscapes, desertcapes and great escapes.

Flat Tire

Drive In