UNM Displays Alejibre on Loan from Mexican Consul

June 16, 2016 - Dorene DiNaro

Cheo and Consul with AlejibreThe University of New Mexico is currently displaying the monumental alebrije “Xólotl: Dios Perro” (Dog Diety) in the main lobby of the Center for the Arts building. The piece comes on loan from the Mexican Cultural Center through the Consul of Mexico in Albuquerque, Efren N. Leyva Acevedo, and will reside on the UNM campus through Friday, Sept. 2.

(photo: Dr. Torres and Consul Leyva view the 14ft alebrije “Xólotl: Dios Perro” (Dog Diety)

Created by Óscar Becerra-Mora, a Mexican contemporary artist, Xólotl is the representation of the Aztec God, Lord of the underworld, and brother of Quetzalcóatl, the feathered serpent and was charged with protecting the sun as it passed through the underworld. It is said that he helped his brother in the creation of the humankind.

“The Consulate of Mexico encourages Mexican artists such sculptors and painters to consider publicly exhibiting single or multiple pieces of art from their collections abroad,” Levya says. “The motive for lending this piece was to showcase Mexico’s version of the fantastical creatures that are part of the collective imaginations of cultures throughout the world in a very public way on the UNM campus.”

 Alebrijes each have a distinct look. Xólotl’s defining quality is his ability to transform into other figures, animals or objects, and his features including wings, horns, tails and claws are taken from various animals. 

 Dr. Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, vice president for UNM Student Affairs, worked with the Levya’s office to ensure that the piece could be housed on the UNM campus, and is excited about this and other collaborations which have formed between the two entities.

 “The alebrije is a great way for us to learn more about different cultures,” he says. “What better way to start a conversation about diversity, culture and differences than by placing a 14ft colorful piece on our campus”

 Dr. Regina Carlow, associate dean for the UNM College of Fine Arts is excited to have the alebrije on campus. “This colorful piece will not only entertain College of Fine Arts students and Popejoy patrons, it has already delighted a number of future Lobos who are attending our arts and music programs this summer,” she says. “The sculpture arrived on the first day of our Arts Access camp for more than 40 children. They were ecstatic to see what they thought was a gigantic and colorful Lobo standing in the middle of the lobby. The children ended their first day sitting in front of the alebrije listening to a concert of Mexican music performed by UNM Music students.”


Alebrijes, originated in the 1930s after Pedro Linares, a Mexican artisan fell ill and dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest where several animals and creatures were shouting “alebrijes!” When he woke up he began recreating the creatures he saw in cardboard and papier-mâché and called them Alebrijes.

 They are often compared to gargoyles in Gothic cathedrals, dragons in Asian cultures, various creatures in Greek mythology, and Persian and Egyptian religious traditions and are crafted in various shapes and sizes from a variety of materials. Xólotl stands at 14.11 feet tall and weighs approximately 140 pounds.

 Xólotl will be on display until Friday, Sept. 2.  For more information, please contact AJ Carian in the College of Fine Arts at 277-2112 or ajcarian@unm.edu.