About the Artist
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to fight in the
xochiyaotl, or flower wars, leading to Aztec sacrifices . . . build
a raft for a 13-ton sculpture of an Olmec head and float it along a river
. . . celebrate the grand presentation of an important heir to prestigious
Maya lords. . . .
Impossible? No. Nor unusual, for artists like Felipe Dávalos,
who are in the business of re-creating ancient life.
Dávaloss work has been inspired and influenced by his ancestors, the
pre-Columbian artists of his native Mexico, who carved statues and painted
murals to broadcast important information. The art of ancient cultures
represents hundreds of years of visual communication, Dávalos
says. The people of the ancient cities are gone, but their ideas live on.
Dávaloss first job out of art school was with the Mexican newspaper El
Día, where the internationally known graphic artist, Alberto Beltrán,
was his supervisor and mentor. The two shared an interest in the ancestory
of native peoples, and when Beltran recommended Dávalos to
archaeologist Michael Coe in 1967, the collaboration resulted in a
comprehensive study of Olmec stone monuments as well as a life-long
friendship. Scholars still trust Felipes work to study the ancient Olmec
sculptures 30 years later, says Richard Diehl, field director for
Coe on the Olmec project.
Dávalos has contributed to four articles in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC since 1980
and is currently on the staff of Sacramento Art, Inc. (SART), in California,
where he uses his graphic skills to promote further study of the art of the
Olmec, Maya, and Aztec civilizations of Mexico and Central America.