Jorge Cuevas breathes life into his Minions
through the ancient Japanese art of Origami
News flash; San Quentin has been invaded by Minions! Resident Jorge Cuevas creates the lovable characters based on the popular movies as a pastime.
“During my incarceration I knew that I was going to do a lot of time” said Cuevas. “So I asked myself; what I can do in order to survive in here? How can I stay busy so I won’t get into trouble?”
The answer Cuevas sought began to take shape at High Desert State Prison when a friend from Nicaragua introduced him to origami. “I feel blessed that my friend Diaz, who was my elder, saw something in me and passed the torch of creation to me.”
Cuevas utilized origami skills to fashion his Minions, a collection of which reside on top of his locker.
His creations include Monster, a mean, hairy, purple bad guy who is always angry and bent on eating all the other Minions.
Monster’s preferred first Minion meal is another Cuevas creation, Kevin, a rascally Minion who is all smiles.
Once Monster succeeds in eating Kevin, he has his appetite set on Kevin’s friend, Orlando, a Minion always on the run, his mouth wide open in a constant state of fear of Monster. Another creation, Stuart, has just one eye.
Cuevas first sketches the mouth, ears, and eyes of each Minion, establishing its persona. He identifies each one by emblazoning his name, the date, and where he was when he created the Minion.
The artist watched the Minions movie several times in order to make his creations more realistic and relatable to the original movie characters.
Besides the Minions, Cuevas also constructs picture frames and lunchmeat packs out of paper, and employs origami techniques to craft teddy bears holding roses.
He acknowledged that he had seen this kind of teddy bear and had even bought a similar one from another artist. That was when he decided to utilize origami to create a unique style by changing the shape of the bears’ ears, bellies and eyes.
The artist often works in response to requests from fellow residents, who send the items he makes to family or use them to liven up their cells.
He thinks of his newfound skill as a gift from heaven. But his creations require hobby supplies in addition to skill.
Cuevas expressed gratitude toward his former boss and friend, Ms. Dana Chow. Chow supports his creativity by paying for the special purchase orders that provide materials for his work.
“When I first came to San Quentin, I thought that I was going to be given the opportunity to buy more supplies,” said Cuevas. “It’s sad to come to a lower level II prison and not be allowed purchase hobby supplies so that I can continue with my rehabilitation.”
If you see or hear a couple of panicky Minions scurry down the tier past your cell, don’t be surprised if Monster shoots past a few seconds later, hungry, angry and hot on their tails.