Making its last stop in the United States before heading to Europe, the Vochol — a 1990 Volkswagen Beetle hand decorated with more than 2 million glass beads — rolled into Denver International Airport last week.
On Monday, officials from the Mexican consulate in Denver and from the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City joined with students from Denver Public Schools to officially kick-off the art exhibit on display through Aug. 31 in the main terminal.
"You can see a lot of luxury cars and sports cars, but there's only one Vochol," said Andrés Chao, the Mexican consul general in Denver. "There's different messages each can take from the car. With their art, the Huicholes can use little pieces of beads to express landscapes of my country, religious messages and other symbols. When they start any project they have a very open mind, that's the feeling it gives."
Two Huichol families — isolated indigenous natives of west central Mexico — spent seven months in 2010, affixing strands of glass beads to cover every inch of the Beetle's exterior, as well as the steering wheel and dashboard.
The work, now called the Vochol, was named so as an expression of the cross culture the artwork represents; a mix with the word "Vocho" — slang in Mexico for the popular Beetle, and the word Huichol.
"The governments of Jalisco and Tepic put us in touch with two families and they worked together wonderfully," said Cecilia Moctezuma, director of the Association of Friends of theMuseo de Arte Popular.
One family from the town ofTepic in the Mexican state of Nayarit, worked on the sides of the car. Their work is in a style Moctezuma describes as simplistic perfection. The family in Guadalajara, Jalisco, worked on the top, front and back of the car with more intricate detailing.
Both families set their own prices and were paid for their work. Association volunteers provided other supports so that the families could focus on the art.
"We spoiled them like you would not believe," Moctezuma said. "We just wanted to add the human touch because they were so special to us. There was not a week that passed without us visiting them."
Chao and Moctezuma said the artists are proud that their creation is traveling the world.
Matt Chasansky, director of art and culture at the aiport, said DIA hopes to display other works that highlight Denver's place as an international gateway.
"Denver is emerging as an international city, and the cultural industry in Denver is a major part of that," he said. "These types of projects are part of our strategy for enhancing the customer service experience of DIA."