Suchilquitongo, Mexico, August 1, 2007
—Artist Alejandro Santiago really knows how to make friends—literally—and he's hoping his latest project will influence people.
Santiago is in the process of "repopulating" his hometown of Teococuilco in the central Mexican state of Oaxaca with clay people, seen above at his workshop in Suchilquitongo. The project is an homage to the high number of young people who leave the region to seek their fortunes in the United States.
"Where are my friends, my relatives?" he asked the town's remaining residents, according to an Associated Press report. "They are all in the United States? I kept asking and asking. Night fell and not one soul came to visit me."
So far the artist has sculpted about 1,500 statues, each just over 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and each with a uniquely designed face. When the collection is done, the roughly 2,500 statues will go on display at a Monterrey museum before being placed in the streets of Teococuilco.
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Photograph by Luis Alberto Cruz/AP