It is not easy to see exactly how young people will take up wood carving and painting. The family has been the first influence and then the structure within the three villages that create this traditional foundation and economic possibility.
Whilst the roots of wood carving are still alive, are there the same motivations to produce them and if not in what direction will wood carving continue? To a large extent this question has been answered for the time being. The success of some artisans has created a demand for work that highlights intricate painting. It is painting focused work. Skill based rather than subject based. Usually, the painting is applied to animal carvings and any animal can be painted with any set of patterns and colours. The success of this has been to remove the need to question what these works are really about. Whilst demand lasts the questions are not asked but if it should waver then there will be artisan with little more than the partial skill, like someone that specialises in painting a particular flower on porcelain. That is the danger.
Manuel Cruz Prudencio has been raised with the strengths of his father. He is strong willed, self confident and industrious. He lives with his wife Rubi Martinez Fabian close to his father and mother on the outskirts of Oaxaca City away from the influence of the villages. As young artisans, already working together for 8 years, they already possess the technical proficiency and the imagination to carry them through their lives. But it is the unfolding of their lives that will guide the development of their work, the subject matter and the sensibilities with which it is carried out. What seems important is that there work is not limited in one direction. Manuel's father, Agustin, has a breadth of subject matter rooted in local traditions but traditions he has subverted in new ways, like his nativity scenes transplanted from the stable to cars, aeroplanes and funfairs. This provides a strong foundation for their future work. Manuel and Rubi exude optimism in the way they set about building and maintaining their home, in the careful planning of their kitchen, in the industrious atmosphere of their workshop with its yellow walls, even with Manuel's collection of woolly caps and in Rubi's bright, sharp-wittedness.
Their work takes a long time in its preparation and making. Fortunately, there is a growing understanding and demand for works that require this commitment.