Huichol + Volkswagen = Vochol

On Saturday we took a much needed trip to the National Mall to see various new exhibits at some of the museums. The exhibit I wanted to go see most was “Huichol – art on wheels.”

Before I explain what that is, first let me explain what or rather who the Huichol are. The Huichol are indigenous people from western central Mexico, “living in the Sierra Madre Occidental range in the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango.” [Wikipedia] Though they’re commonly known as “Huichol”, they call themselves “Wixáritari” which means “the people” in their language.

My interest in the Huichol people first started a few years ago when Carlos dedicated an adorable song to me by a music group called Huichol Musical. (He does this often – serenades me with songs from YouTube. Carlos will find a video then say, “This song is for you” before playing it at full blast. Not exactly the same as finding a mariachi ensemble outside one’s window, but such is modern romance.)

As I researched more I discovered Huichol art which quickly became one of my favorites. I love colorful folk art and Huichol art is beautiful beyond words.

Image source: Patti Haskins
Image source: Lucy Nieto

So, when I heard that there was an entire vehicle covered in Huichol art, (a Volkswagen Beetle to be exact), at the National Museum of the American Indian, I knew I had to check it out. I’m not even going to apologize for the dozen photos I’m about to bombard you with because it was that chévere. (In between the photos I’ll share some facts I learned about the exhibit from a pamphlet provided by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.)

This piece of art is called “Vochol.” The word “Vochol” is a combination of “vocho” (slang for Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico) and “Huichol.”

The Huichol are known for their colorful beadwork and fiber arts.

Guess how many glass seed beads cover this vehicle, (including interior details!) … If you said 2,277,000 then you are correct. (That’s more than 2 million for those of you who aren’t good with numbers like me.)

The beads alone weigh almost 200 lbs. and are held on with 35 lbs. of resin.

It took eight Wixáritari artists from two families more than 9,000 hours to create this work of art.

The names of the families who created The Vochol: The Bautistas from Jalisco and the Ortiz from Nayarit, Mexico.

The Vochol features a lot of symbolism. Can you spot a two-headed eagle? A snake? Maize? A canoe?

The Vochol is a collaboration between the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, the Museo de Arte Popular, and the state governments of Nayarit and Jalisco.

The Vochol will only be on display in DC until May 6th – so if you want to see it in person, go now.

The phrases on the front fenders say “Two hundred years of independence” and “One hundred years since the Mexican Revolution in Wixáritari.

After an international tour, The Vochol will be auctioned off with proceeds going towards promoting the work of native Mexican artists.

Want to learn more? Links:

Official Vochol website
National Museum of the American Indian Meet the Vochol


    • Can you imagine a car covered in art in the traditional style of Fernando Llort? It would be so awesome!

  1. On behalf of the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular thank you for visiting and writing about the vochol.

    • Thank you for your part in making Mexican art like this available to the public outside of Mexico and for supporting native artists! Saludos!

  2. I love the imagination and dedication of the people who created that masterpiece. What an incredible work of art!
    Punch buggy, no punching back!!
    (I can’t believe no one said it yet!)

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