When I started sculpting, almost immediately I noticed the influence of the Mayan culture on my work, which was no surprise to me, since my grandfather had Mayan roots. In my early pieces I used red and white cantera stone that comes from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where I grew up. As I looked at the form taking shape, I felt that I was holding a piece of ancestral art in my hands, really distant in time, with an almost mythical feeling to it.

In the beginning, my favorite subject for sculpture was hands. I was always trying to reproduce those silent and mistreated hands . . .  When I looked at the people whose hands I was sculpting, I saw campesinos, indigenous people, and workers—people from both sides of the border. Eventually, I started to portray other facets of these people in my sculpture, incorporating their daily activities, customs, and clothing into the designs. Then I started looking at other areas of their world, at their mountains and valleys. From there, my repertory began to extend to experiments with the beauty of the animals in the altiplano—jaguars, eagles, coyotes. Even fish. I began looking deeper into the history of indigenous people. I visited the sites of their ancient buildings in and around Mexico City, studying the motifs and looking for the influence of indigenous art on the Spanish-style architecture that followed. I gave my own interpretation to these motifs, which comes out in the totemic columns I carve.

When I came to Seattle, I was fascinated by the totem poles carved by Northwest tribes, which gave me another source of inspiration to create my own unique pieces. In these pieces you can see elements of indigenous civilizations from both Central and North America.

I do both abstract and realistic sculpture. Of course, with the realistic pieces—Aztec warriors with their jaguar skins and eagle feathers, or campesinos with their palm hats and work tools—I maintain a close fidelity to the subject. Some artists have a recognizable style, but I don’t think I do. Each idea that I bring to life in stone or clay is just one more piece from my “creative machine,” which is constantly searching for new forms of expression.

Photos  Courtesy  Hugo  Ludeña  ©

                                                            Carlos Espinoza

“The Washington National Guard commissioned artist Carlos Espinoza of West Seattle to carve a bas-relief of the Great Seal of the United States in a plaza at the Guard Headquarters in Tacoma.

The sixteen-foot diameter relief is composed of over 500 concrete paver bricks carved on location. After finishing the main project Espinoza recycled the leftover pavers to make two benches adjacent to the plaza, one of the which is shown in the photo.”

Espinoza, who hails from Mexican province of Chihuahua, is a skilled carver who works in several media, including clay, stone, brick, metal and wood. His artwork often draws on motifs created by the Aztec and Mayan peoples, with whom he shares a common heritage. A common theme in hi artwork is the image of the eagle, which represents freedom in many indigenous cultures”.

“Great Seal of the United States”