Las Vegas artist Justin Favela is celebrated for his piñata-inspired works made from tissue and cardboard, often reflecting pop culture, family and his Mexican and Guatemalan heritage. So when the Mexican Consulate in Las Vegas contacted him about making a nativity for its lobby, Favela—whose works include a life-size Chevy Impala lowrider and a pixilated version of a José María Velasco Gómez painting—tapped into family tradition.
Each year, he says, his grandmother builds a mountain out of stacked cardboard boxes and fabric, placing on top a store-bought manger of biblical characters and animals (endearingly including animals not immediately present in the Middle East at the beginning of the first century).
It’s an elaborate and anticipated display, one that Favela re-created for the consulate lobby. Stacked cardboard boxes structure the towering mountain. Layered and crumpled tissue paper creates the craggy landscape. Animals inspired by his grandmother’s collection of figurines dot the mountain.
And specific to the artist’s version, an angel in a blue dress familiar to Vegas’ East Side stands before the manger with her wand, bringing to the consulate the traditional story of Christmas with a unique blend of Las Vegas, Bethlehem and Mexico.