Dia de los Muertos

22 Sep

I didn’t begin commemorating Dia de los Muertos until about six years ago.  I was not raised in the Mexican tradition, my father’s family being out of the picture my entire life.  We moved out of Los Angeles before I turned ten, into the suburbs where the only skeletons come out on halloween (and are never smiling) and so I missed out on the special day we pay homage to the deceased.

I don’t remember exactly when I first became fully aware of Dia de los Muertos, but I suspect it was in an art history course in college.  I vaguely remember a documentary about mexican folk traditions, becoming utterly mesmerized by the marigolds and old women sweeping the graves of their dead.  I’ve always been very interested in my own dead:  the relatives that make up the part of my family I am not familiar with.  My paternal grandmother, Maria Luisa Noble, may still be alive somewhere in Pachuca or she may be dead.  I don’t know what she looks like but, from the stories that have been (maliciously) passed down about her, I find this woman fascinating.  I feel the same about la Dorita, a grand-aunt that died as a baby, and la tia Cata, a grand-aunt who made her way across the slums of Peru delivering babies in exchange for chickens by kerosene lamplight.  

My work is about family histories in general, homages to those–alive and dead–who make up my personal narratives.  I built an altar once–dedicated to my very much alive younger sister when she graduated from high school.  I am sure it creeped out more than one relative, but it was a way of expressing my pride and love for her, in the tradition of the Mexican lineage we have never really been a part of.

Thus, I approach Dia de los Muertos as an outsider–from the inside.  I feature skulls regularly in my work because I feature a lot of dead people (literally and figuratively), people who are no longer a part of my life but have made an impact.  I see skeletons as a symbol of change and passing from one existence to the other and, of course, in the usual Western tradition:  as a symbol of mortality (the skull of adam!).  I see them as chubby, jubilant, living and plastic.  I see them as babies and mothers and tios and tias.  They become real people to me with histories and lives and loves.  And, similar as they may seem, they are all unique.

It is in this spirit that I will be participating in a couple of events this October/November, that you are very much invited to participate in!

Dia de los Muertos Printmaking Workshop!

Saturday, October 11

11 a.m.-2 p.m.

All materials Included:  $35

Museum of Latin American Art

Join me as we explore the linocut utilizing the iconic image of the calavera!  Create a singular character or a pantheon of characters that will interact in the scene that you create for them.  I will instruct participants on image development, transferring the image onto the plate, proper cutting methods, safe cutting, inking and printing on a variety of papers.  Participants will create a small edition of prints to trade, give away to loved ones or sell!

for more info: 562-216-4108

Dia de los Muertos Exhibition at the Mexican Cultural Institute (Placita Olvera)

October 17-November 4, 2008

Closing Reception:  November 1st

More info TBA
























Once again my colleague, Jennifer Gutierrez Morgan, is organizing a Dia de los Muertos Exhibition.  Last year, we exhibited here in Long Beach at the Viento y Agua Gallery in an exhibition titled Crossing Over:  Una Nueva Existencia.  This year, it will take place at the Mexican Cultural Institute at la Placita Olvera (Olvera Street) in downtown Los Angeles. 

The exhibition opens with a “soft” opening and closes with a large celebration on the 1st!  I will be posting more information as it becomes available to me!

For everyone in Long Beach and the surrounding areas: I’d like to invite you all to participate in the month-long Dia de los Muertos activities going on at the Museum of Latin American Art.  Every Sunday (minus the 19th) we will host Dia de los Muertos themed workshops!  These workshops are FREE and Open to the Public!  On November 2nd, molaa will host it’s own Dia de los Muertos Family Festival with entertainment, food, workshops for adults and children, an altar contest and a muerto look-alike contest.  For more information, visit http://www.molaa.org.

These are pretty much my Dia de los Muertos activities this year.  I hope that some of you will sign up for the workshop–it should be a lot of fun!  And I hope to see the rest of you at Olvera Street!


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