Crafting Tradition: Oaxacan Wood Carvings

Charles H. MacNider Art Museum 303 Second Street SE, Mason City, IA

Wood carvings from the Mexican state of Oaxaca are part of a worldwide trade in ethnic and tourist arts. This exhibition shows how this trade can result in new artistic forms that straddle the border between popular craft and fine art. Although the inspirations for these pieces are often rooted in the past, they are also influenced by contemporary change in Mexico and designed to suit the artistic taste of buyers in the United States and Europe.

Works on view

This exhibition was curated by Professor Emeritus Michael Chibnik in 2005 (Anthropology, University of Iowa) and was adapted for travel by the UIMA. This exhibition is funded in part by the John K. and Luise V. Hanson Foundation and is organized by Legacies for Iowa: A University of Iowa Museum of Art Collections Sharing Project, Supported by the Matthew Bucksbaum Family. 


In conjunction with this exhibition, the University of Iowa Museum of Art, partnering with the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum, has invited two distinguished Oaxacan artists for an on-site, week-long residency from April 18–April 24, 2016. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the artists, hear about their process, and see them at work in the MacNider studios throughout the week.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about NEA grants impact individuals and communities, visit



Jesús Sosa Calvo, Juanita Ortega, and other family members (San Martín Tilcajete)

Seven Regions of Oaxaca

, 2005
Copal and acrylic paint, 69 x 15 x 15 in. (175 x 38 x 38 cm)
Museum purchase, 2015.106