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ArtWorlds: Mexico, Dia de los Muertos

Posted October 23rd, 2017  |  By A4A.admin

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CSMA is excited to announce this year’s ArtWorlds: Mexico, Día de los Muertos event on Wednesday, November 1, from 4-7pm. There will be live mariachi music, traditional Mexican cuisine, hands-on art activities, and Día de los Muertos Altars on display by local artists. The altars will be up from now until November 19th. Get to know the artists as they discuss their inspiration and process in creating these beautiful altars.

Patty Botello, Local Artist

What does Día de los Muertos mean to you?

Día de Los Muertos to me is a time to remember our loved ones that have passed, to take some time out of our busy lives and dedicate our thoughts to them. In my youth we did not celebrate Día de Los Muertos although I had much exposure to the tradition growing up in Los Angeles. As an adult I began traditions of my own by creating art pieces in honor of my family that have passed away, and in that way immortalizing them.

What was the inspiration behind your Día de los Muertos altar?

My altar is mainly dedicated to my grandparents, three of whom have passed away, as well as an intimate loss of my own. I never met my maternal grandmother Patricia nor my paternal grandfather Jose but I always feel them near. I grew up with my paternal abuelita (grandmother) Lorenza and took care of her in the last few years of life and learned much about her life in the process. After her passing I found an inner need to create a few art pieces in honor of her for Día de Los Muertos, and in the creation of these art pieces I found an avenue to channel my sorrow and was able to inject those feelings of sadness and love into a work of art. The centerpiece is a self portrait of myself as a Catrina mermaid holding my little loss of life, and I feel like my grandparents are taking care of the unborn child wherever they might be. On Día de Los Muertos it is thought that the doors to the world of the living open up and let our loved ones who have died come to visit the living for the day.

What materials did you choose to make your altar, and why?

The altar was created in a mixed media style that I call piñata sculpture, which blur the line between traditional crafts and sculpture art. Made out of recycled cardboard, crepe paper and tissue paper, all the paper is hand cut and attached with care to create a beautifully textured sculpture. I only had the opportunity to create one sculpture for my abuelita, and thought how wonderful it would be to create piñatas for all three of my grandparents. This altar contains piñatas that I would love for them to have as well as paper mache replicas of food that they liked while still on this earth. There are also art works that I have created in my style of anthropomorphic animals that represent people I know, photographs of my grandparents, many paper marigolds to lead them to my altar and bells to signify the beginning and end of an event such as life. With every fold of the paper, I took time to think about my grandparents and I hope they can see how much love was poured into this altar. I hope they visit my altar and enjoy this dedication to them.

Angélica Ortiz Anguiano, Local Artist and Art4Schools Instructor

What does Día de los Muertos mean to you?

Though my parents and extended family are all from México, I did not grow up celebrating Día de los Muertos. Instead, we adopted the American tradition of Halloween and celebrated that every year. That being said, I did grow up learning about the Día de los Muertos traditions. I read about its history and saw pictures of the food, decorations, etc. Even though I have never celebrated Día de los Muertos in the United States, I have traveled to México to partake in the festivities. I got to see the colorful and elaborate altars, the overwhelming amount of sugar skulls, cempasuchiles (marigolds), papel picado, and more. I also got to see how lively the Día de los Muertos tradition still is today and the importance it holds to so many people.

What was the inspiration behind your Día de los Muertos altar?

I first wanted to figure out whom I was going to dedicate my altar to. I couldn’t help but think about the most recent natural disasters- be it the earthquakes, storms, hurricanes, or fires that took the lives of so many people. Therefore, I wanted my altar to have natural elements and for the focus to be on nature. I want to highlight the beauty that is nature while keeping in mind how destructive it can be and the devastation that it can cause.

What materials did you choose to make your altar, and why?

My background is in drawing, more specifically landscapes done completely in hard pastel. For this reason, I chose to make a large pastel drawing of a skeleton surrounded by cempasuchiles as the main piece for my altar. Then I turned to Día de los Muertos traditions and incorporated things like tissue paper cempasuchil flowers, papel picado, candles, sugar skulls, ceramic skulls, and food. I also included a picture frame that shows who my altar is dedicated to. The picture of the world is meant to represent those who lost their lives to the most recent natural disasters.

Nora Raggio, Mixed Media Artist

What does Día de los Muertos mean to you?

Día de Los Muertos is best known in Argentina, where most of my family is from, as Día de Los Fieles Difuntos, yet it has many of the same connotations as Día de Los Muertos, since it honors those that have died and offers them remembrance, respect, and reverence. Ofrendas include flowers and candles.

What was the inspiration behind your Día de los Muertos altar?

The inspiration behind my piece remembers and honors the victims of floods, tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fires: thousands who have experienced extreme devastation and displacement caused by extraordinary weather conditions and geological processes.

What materials did you choose to make your altar, and why?

The materials I’ve chosen reflect devastation. On the banner, I’ve printed phases of havoc—destroyed habitats, lost homes, displaced human beings, often carrying their dead with them. The use of a dark background scrim emphasizes the suffering and gloom imposed on victims. The flowers and candles offer tribute and solidarity to those shattered by these catastrophic events.

Lisa Ramirez, Local Artist

What does Día de los Muertos mean to you?

Día de los Muertos enables me to celebrate and learn about my Mexican culture and to participate in the ritual of honoring my deceased loved ones, as well as develop and experience my spirituality with my catholic background. It also connects to ongoing themes in my work such as memory, identity and loss.

What was the inspiration behind your Día de los Muertos altar?

Family Remembrance Altar pays homage to my maternal and paternal grandparents who immigrated from Mexico and Ireland for a new life in the United States. It also highlights my dear friend Mario Roberto (Bob) Yanez, a brilliant Cuban artist and my beloved cat family.

My inspirations include religious iconography, sacred holy sites, Mexican Retablo paintings (religious paintings on tin), and the connection between the spiritual and physical worlds. I grew up with a heavy Irish Catholic background—every night my grandmother turned on the Rosary at 6pm, she had it blasting in the kitchen while she feverishly worked her rosary going through each prayer. It was intense. I am also drawn to and inspired by The Virgin Guadalupe, I love her myth and celebrate her spiritual power. I have started to use the Virgin Guadalupe’s image as a symbol of hope, particularly as it relates to my 14 years of work with feral cats and my life-long love of all animals.

What materials did you choose to make your altar, and why?

I usually create paintings to honor loved ones using personal images, symbols, organic media and text. The two black memorial trees represent my grandmother’s love of peppermint life savers and her daily ritual of having a cup of Lipton tea. The centerpiece titled Sitting Watch is made of plywood and aluminum covered edges with furniture tacks, recycled furniture decor, dried rose petals and rosebuds, tulle and varnish. Roses and dried roses have a long history in Catholicism. Roses appear in the Virgin Guadalupe myth and rosary beads were originally made of dried rose petals. I have embedded dried rose petals on both ends of this painting, incorporating them into the paint, drying it, sanding the surface and varnishing to create varied textures and color. The rosary in this piece is also created out of dried rose petals and beads.

Cristina Velázquez, Visual Artist and Art4Schools Instructor

What does Día de los Muertos mean to you?

My intense love for all things art has lead me to be involved in different modes of expression, an altar or ofrenda is essentially a traditional Mexican installation in celebration of our loved ones who have parted yet remain close to us through prayer and remembrance. This celebration brings into acute perspective our transient nature in this material world that will decompose with our decaying bodies.

What was the inspiration behind your Día de los Muertos altar?

The inspiration for this altar is focused on the women in our lives who devoted their existence to prayer for the lives of all who surrounded them. This is dedicated to all women of strength and may their power touch our lives.

What materials did you choose to make your altar, and why?

The materials of choice started with the selection of one dress from a collection of ten dresses called Dressed for Everything I Must Be. For this installation I chose to use a form, but generally all the dresses in the collection are meant to be exhibited flat against the wall. The branches and yarn are borrowed from another body of work inspired on dream catchers called My Dream Catchers Stand Tall, which I juxtaposed as a protective barrier for the figure in the forefront.

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