Rubén Guzmán collaborated with the Green Policy Institute to produce and display papier maché sculptures and installations celebrating the ethnic identity of his Fruitvale District neighborhood in Oakland, California—home to a large Mexican immigrant population. Guzmán shared traditional cartonería (Mexican paper sculpture) practices and techniques with neighborhood teenagers, who worked with him on a variety of sculptures and installations, including altars for the Day of the Dead, monumental Judas figures for the Sabado de Gloria and Cinco de Mayo, helmets and swords for Mexican Independence Day, and piñatas for Christmas.
Rubén Guzmán holds a degree in Graphic Design from Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in Mexico City. He studied cartonería in classes given by Ricardo Linares at Museo de San Carlos and Leonardo Linares at Casa Estudio Diego Rivera in Mexico City.
The mission of Guzmán’s partner organization–the Green Policy Institute–is to help states, counties, cities, towns, and neighborhoods achieve greater economic prosperity through self-reliance, ownership, and empowerment. By collaborating with an organization that engages community residents in bettering their neighborhoods, Guzmán hoped his project would to draw together the broader population of Fruitvale with its residents of Mexican descent.