Mexican artwork on wheels

Volkswagen has had a major presence in Mexico for most of its post-World War II existence. It operates a huge assembly plant in Puebla, the capital of the eponymous Mexican state, which builds thousands of vehicles destined for the North American market. Mexico was also among the very last places where the immortal air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle was still legal for production, and still enjoys local status as a cultural touchstone that has somewhat eluded the United States since the first Golf, nee Rabbit, reached these shores in 1975. In Mexico, the Beetle has long served as a canvas for artistic expression; the famous “Wedding Beetle” is one such creation. Here’s another collaboration between one of Germany’s most storied automakers and the artisans from one of its biggest markets.

Officially, this colorful creation is known as the Vochol, a takeoff on Mexico’s fond moniker for the ageless Beetle, vocho. What we have here is a Mexico-market 1990 Beetle festooned with more than 2.2 million glass beads, transforming it firmly into an artifact of rolling sculpture. It’s name recalls not only the vocho, but also the term Huichol, which is a colloquialism that describes the indigenous Wixárika people native to the western Mexican states of Nayarit and Jalisco. Eight artists from a pair of Huichol families labored on this Beetle for eight months, coating its sheetmetal curves with resin and then applying the glass beads by hand, one by one, in a variety of geometric patterns. The project consumed some 9,000 hours of hand workmanship, and features symbology relevant to Huichol spiritualism. It’s the largest single piece of Huichol beadwork ever created, and the bead-bedecked vocho now resides at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City when it’s not on loan, a journey that’s taken this car all around the world.

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