Hidden History: Central Valley man bringing the history of indigenous people to life

Hidden History

CALIFORNIA — A Central Valley man is dedicating his time to bringing the history of the indigenous people of Mexico to life. Desiree Lopez shows us by creating pieces of art using a unique method.

“Pyrography is a slow process there are pieces that can take from one week some more than 3 to 4 months.”

Born in Michoacán Mexico José Juan Alvarez also known by his artistic name “Hui-Chu Kukari” meaning wet dog in his native language “Purepecha” says his love for pre-Hispanic art started at a young age.

“At the age of 5, I did my first pencil drawing.”

Alvarez has lived in the city of Farmersville for more than 30 years and has devoted 20 of those years to pyrography, the art of making images on wood by burning it.

Self-thought, Alvarez has created more than 250 pieces of art showcasing the history and culture of many indigenous groups of Mexico in his own backyard.

“At school, they teach us about some cultures such as the Mexicans and the Mayans but in Mexico, there are more than 60 indigenous groups.”

Although the pandemic has caused for his art exhibits to be postponed, Alvarez says he has found another way to educate his community about the indigenous cultures, by writing a book.

“I realized if I can communicate the indigenous culture through art why not do it through writing.”

Alvarez says he hopes his art will motivate others to learn about their culture. Especially the younger generation.

“I’ve participated at many schools and the students get amazed by the pre-Hispanic art and many tell me they want to do the same when they grow up and that right there motivates me to keep on going.”

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