The VW Beetle brings out creativity in Mexican artists and has inspired people all over the world to paint it with wild colors and designs.
But, while the concept of an “art car” has produced some… well… interesting decoration schemes, let’s be frank, most are just ugly collections of junk.
There are art car projects that are worthy of the name. One of these is the Vochol, a VW Beetle (newer version), which was decorated with over 2,277,000 tiny plastic beads, sponsored by the Museo de Arte Popular (Folk Art Museum or MAP) in Mexico City. Vochol, comes from “vocho” (Mexican Spanish slang for VW Beetle) and “Huichol.”
To create the car, four noted Wixáritari (Huichol) artisan families were hired to design and carefully place each bead. The vast majority of the beads are found on the exterior of the car, glued into place with a special high-temperature adhesive. This means that the car can be driven, but no one would think of abusing a piece of art in that manner. Bead work can be found in the interior as well, such as the dashboard and the seat-covers, but it is the outside work that is the most eye-catching because that is where the main imagery is.
The designs represent the religion and culture of the Wixaritari along with references to 2010. The Wixaritari are an indigenous ethnicity that live in western Mexico, primarily in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. They are one of few who have managed to keep many of their original religious beliefs, with only a thin veneer of Catholicism.
The car’s hood has two snakes above clouds, which represent rain. the back has images of offering and a canoe steered by a shaman. On the sides there are images of the gods of the sun, fire, con, deer and peyote. The roof has a large sun and four eagles, representing the union between man and the gods. As the project was set to be completed in time for Mexico’s 2010 anniversaries of its independence and the Mexican Revolution, the front fenders contain the phrases “200 years of Independence” and “100 years since the Mexican Revolution” in the Wixarika language.
The project was originally meant to be on display for the 2010 anniversaries, then auctioned off as a fund raiser for the Museo de Arte Popular. But the popularity of the piece with the public was such that the museum changed its mind and instead has used the piece to promote Mexican handcrafts and Wixaritari culture. The car has toured the United States, Canada and Europe, along with Mexico. When it is home it has a prominent place in the main lobby of the museum.