a festive Cinco de Mayo table set with Mexican food and decorated with colorful papel picado banners

Inspired by Cinco de Mayo

I’m so inspired by the vibrant Mexican arts and crafts tradition. With Cinco de Mayo coming up, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite Mexican artists and remember some of our past Cinco de Mayo projects, too!

Last year I talked to my friend Nadia Aguilar Cates about Cinco de Mayo and some of her plans to celebrate it. She explained that “Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that commemorates the battle of Puebla. It’s not Mexico’s Independence Day but a common celebration in the United States.” –Nadia Aguilar Cates, @Casa_Palomi

Two little boys dressed in Mariachi outfits holding cardboard instruments stand in front of a giant pink papel picado decoration

Last year Nadia and I worked together to make a COVID-safe drive-by Cinco de Mayo party, complete with cardboard mariachi instruments for kids and a giant papel picado backdrop. If you missed it last year, it’s not too late to get ready for this year’s festivities!

We also interviewed Nadia last Fall, and everything she does to preserve and celebrate her Mexican heritage is so inspiring. Check out her interview here, and definitely keep an eye on Ella Rises, the organization Nadia created to empower Latina youth.

Nadia Aguilar Cates stands in front of a giant pink papel picado decoration

History of Cinco de Mayo

As Nadia said, Cinco de Mayo commemorates an important Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862 in the city of Puebla. The battle, in which the Mexican army defeated French troops, marked a turning tide in the fight for Mexican sovereignty. It also signaled Mexico’s strength to the rest of the world, which tended to underestimate their power.

Because The House that Lars Built is located in the United States, where anti-Mexican racism is still a pervasive problem, we’re using Cinco de Mayo to reflect on the importance of listening to and celebrating Indigenous and Mexican stories. In true Lars fashion, this means that I’m highlighting some of my favorite Mexican artists and designers!

Lars Loves Mexican Artists

Frida Kahlo

Photograph of Frida Kahlo holding a small carved idol. She's wearing a black and orange woven top and has flowers and ribbons braided into her hair, and she's standing against a turquoise wall. Where would we be without our Queen, Frida Kahlo? She’s probably one of the best-known Mexican artists, and for good reason! Her work explores her Mexican Indigenous heritage in bright colors and with psychologically rich symbolism.

 

Painting by Frida Kahlo.
Self-Portrait on the Border Line Between Mexico and the United States, 1932

If you’re looking for more Frida in your life, check out our Great Artists course for kids, which will teach your little one (and you) more about Frida’s work. You can also look at these DIY projects inspired by Frida and this roundup of Frida Kahlo-inspired decor.

Luis Barragán

A woman holds a black horse's bridal in front of a tomato-colored wall at Luis Barragán's Cuadra San Cristóbal stables. There's also a flat blue pool and pink and purple structures in the background.
Photograph by Rene Burri

Luis Barragán was an incredible Mexican architect and designer, whose geometric buildings are breathtakingly colorful. Visiting his iconic San Cristobal Stables was one of the most memorable parts of my trip to Mexico City a few years ago. Brittany walks under a bright pink structure at Luis Barragán's San Cristobal stables in Mexico City

Michelle Franzoni Thorley

A black and white portrait of Michelle, who looks at the camera. She's wearing a white top and a chunky necklace, and she's standing in front of some plants

Michelle Franzoni Thorley is a local-to-me painter and family historian whose work explores her Mexican heritage and the power of knowing about our ancestors. She also is an anti-racism educator and all-around powerful human being, so make sure you follow her on Instagram @florafamiliar.

A painting of women in mountains, a desert, and a cemetery holding onto a red ribbon that connects them.
Ancestresses by Michelle Franzoni Thorley

Cinco de Mayo in the Archives

Along with last year’s drive by party that Nadia worked on with me, I wanted to share more Cinco de Mayo inspiration from years gone by. One of my earliest Cinco de Mayo projects was this collection of DIY honeycomb ornaments shaped like fruits.

paper fruits in the shape of grapes, an orange, a grapefruit, and a strawberry hang in front of a window

I was also inspired by vibrant Mexican design when I made this Cinco de Mayo paper wedding bouquet! You don’t have to be a bride to make this, though! Putting together this bouquet would be such a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo while simultaneously gearing up for Summer blooms.

brightly colored paper bouquet

If you’re looking for full-on Cinco de Mayo party inspiration, look no further than the fiesta I threw a few years ago! You can find great decor, lots of delicious recipes, and links to tableware that will make your party a true fiesta! a festive Cinco de Mayo table set with Mexican food and decorated with colorful papel picado banners

Maybe I’m getting carried away, but I also want to share my travel guide from Mexico City. In 2018 I went to Mexico City and it was absolutely dreamy. In my Mexico City guide you can find my favorite places to go and things to see, as well as (perhaps most importantly?) where to eat. I can’t wait until I can go back and experience even more of Mexico City, because it’s truly a magical (and huge!) place, with so much to do and see.

a colorful papier mache man floats in a white museum space

I came home from Mexico City feeling so inspired by the color and design that I put together a roundup of fashion and design that reminded me of my trip! I’m itching to go back, but looking through these travel-inspired objects is satisfying a bit of my wanderlust…for now!

Viva México!

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