Art with Cause

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Día de los Muertos

Day of the Dead.

It is Mexico's equivalent to the American Memorial Day.
Except American's put out cheap plastic flowers in a plastic cone or arranged like a flag in the cemeteries of their loved ones - then post sweet and seemingly deep sentiments on facebook about remembering - then picnic, party, and generally celebrate a day off of work - leaving out the deep soulful connection to their ancestor. (Speaking of the mass populous and not the few who actually pull out pics of their dearly departed and have a moment.)

The Mexican celebration is much more focused on ancestors, remembering and honoring their dearly departed, and celebrating the life that they have now because of their roots.  This deeper connection to remembering is misunderstood and even a bit frightening to people who spend their whole lives self absorbed and once removed from anything uncomfortable and dead.

I have a few acquaintances who do not seem to understand that Día de los Muertos is memorial day for another culture and can be celebrated without compromise to a set of "values" they hold onto. Yet on Sunday morning they celebrate the dead with rather gruesome symbols of broken body and blood which they consume.  I wonder what  the difference is between remembering the death of Christ and remembering the death of a loved one - except that we would not remember our loved ones by consuming a symbol of them.  But painting their dead body/skull or decorating a sugar skull in their honor is somehow misunderstood. Maybe it is because it falls so close to Halloween?
(But don't get me started on that one!!! Halloween, aka All Hollows Eve, actually came out of Christianity. Yet it is the Christians who no longer want to acknowledge it. Wishing to separate them selves and by extension also separating themselves from All Hollows Day, aka All Holy Day - which is sort of celebrated in Mexico as Día de los Muertos - a holy day to remember.)

Regardless of undue controversy, it is this deeper remembering that I am longing for.

Like without realizing it was the 11th year anniversary of my Grandmother's passing, that I created a portrait of her. I just had to paint her - not sure why. Creativity can be a slave driver when an idea comes into my head. So I made it in a patchwork quilt style because she quilted. I gave it a cheesy lace trim, because she put that trim around many of her quilts. Then I showed my aunt, who then told me - "It was this week, 11 years ago..."
"Grandma's Quilt" 36x43 Mixed Media
Although I may have Americanized the process, since I painted her with her flesh still in place as if she was still alive and not yet past. But the soulful memory was there; like the memory of her wrapping me in one of her quilts - the quilts she stitched together  in love... not as much "in love" (although there was as much love in her creative works as there is in any artist's creative works) ...but they were, more so, stitched together because of that very same compelling force that makes me create. I do not know if she gave it any thought: why she was so compelled to create - but everyday she did something creative. Such a heroic inspiration! And such an amazing story of love, sacrifice, duty, loyalty, care-giving and creativity! A story too personal to tell in words on the internet. (I know, I share so much, yet this is something I want to hold close to me.)

This is the deeper remembering - the connection with your ancestors - the soul food that sparks creativity...

This is my longing!

And taking a moment to think of her... I am inspired to dig deep and spill the creative flow inside me... you will find me at my canvas.


  1. I love that painting of your grandmother!!! One of my favorites!!


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