Let me start by saying that I really really like halloween and I really wanted to make a piece of art that would remind me of the things I love about it (mainly: candy) I have so many memories of my childhood that I wanted to explore and illustrate, but the more I thought about it, the more I remembered "Dia de Muertos" or Day of the Dead. As you may know, I grew up in Mexico and this is a celebration that's been practiced for centuries.
This tradition celebrates the lives of our ancestors that have passed away, not in a scary way, but in joyfully honoring their lives. In some places they go to the cemeteries and place flowers and food in their graves and sing and dance until morning. They believe the spirits come during the night of Nov 1st and eat the "essence" of the offerings, and then the living will eat the "material" part. I have to say I've never made an altar or offering for any dead I may have in my family, it's something that I don't practice but I believe in honoring the dead and I stand by the principle of celebrating death as a new beginning.
But I have definitely eaten the offerings! We have a special bread made only for this occasion, "Pan de Muerto" or "Dead's Bread" I know it doesn't sound so good, but it really is! We also have little decorated skulls made of sugar, and it's a custom to buy them and give them to your friends and maybe place a paper with their names on the skull's forehead. We also make little poems called "Calaveritas" (Little Skulls) where we narrate, in a funny way, the way someone we know passed away and how fun their life was.
Sounds kind of weird, doesn't it? well, it's just another way of looking at death. When I was little we celebrated Halloween as the scary holiday where you dress up and get free candy. Two days later there was the Day of the Dead where we had Pan de Muerto, atole, skeletons everywhere, altars and orange flowers. We experienced a rebirth of life, in a way. In my mind the two complement each other, I can't imagine one holiday without the other.
This found art piece is 6x4 inches and I tried a new technique this time, I used heavy acrylics and a spatula, it felt a little like icing a cake! the skull is drawn in a separate piece of watercolor paper with black and brown markers and then glued on top of the orange color. There's my name on the top, maybe this is me laughing at death. Can you see my conscience in my left shoulder? I still don't know where I'll leave it, I'll let you know soon!
Go see Kathy LaRocco's contribution to this project, here: bruja