opening friday november 5th 5-8pm.
Heart, creativity and wisdom — vibrant ritual practices, celebration and humor that defines Dia de los Muertos
Dia de Los Muertos originates in the primal and universal human experience of death. And the need to confront death and pay honor to those gone – to inspire reflection about the quality of our own lives as we honor those who have passed.
a synopsis – history condensed:
First documented Celebrations — starting around each August 8. Micailhuitontli (small feast of the dead) to honor dead children. The festival went on for the next 20 days, culminating August 28 with a celebration to honor the adult dead. both rituals included cempoalxochitl flowers (marigolds) fire, copal incense, food, water, drink, feasting, dancing, sacrifice, etc.
Spain arrives to colonize
1521. Europeans bring horses, guns, disease and christianity. Festivals/beliefs are modified and adapted to the christian calendar. There are some similarities between christianity and the beliefs of the indigenous. The two feasts of the dead are moved to November to coincide with the christian feast of all saints and all saints day.
Spanish colonial period
Spanish culture and influence brings satire, humor to the feast for the dead celebration. We are all equal in death and nothing is beyond mockery. Spanish event carnevale (carne vale – translating as farewell to flesh) and Feast of Fools with the idea that everything is equal and open to critizism, ridicule and frivolity. Sugar skulls, skeleton toys, La Virgen de Guadalupe all become important elements of the holiday. The playfulness took from death a little of its sting.
The calaveras (also popularly translated as empty headed fools) appear in the ofrenda and develop into an important cultural icon and tool for commentary, mocking the rich and in power. Public posters combining the charactures with initially, pasquín (mocking verses) and then the more famous corridos (verses of political commentary and focusing on current events.) Artists Posada (printmaker, and the father of modern mexican art) and Suárez (writer) are the forefront and most famous of this form.
The 1910 revolution removes the Diez (Spain) influence and establishes an independent Mexico. Modern Mexican art exploded into its own. The Mexican masters artists such as Orozco, Rivera, Kahlo, Siqueiros eschew not only the French orientation of Diez-era, but the Spanish influence as well, and look to the indiginous art and culture. Dia de los Muertos is the holiday of the poor and rural. Interest in the holiday by the urban or middleclass secularizes the holiday more and more.
Dia De Los Muertos in the US
In the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The United States is consumed by the Vietnam war. And death. César chavez is working for civil rights of farm workers in California and other western states. Chicano art, rooted in Mexican culture born in the United States, comes into its own. Some teachers of Mexican decent introduce los Dias into the class room. Ofrendas start to appear more and more in the southwest United States. Ofrendas are taken to a new art form, both in folk and public art, incorporating papel picado, photographs, etc.
Ofrenda as Art
installations unfold in universal stories of loss, history, culture, pride. satire, humor
Dia de los Muertos, Portland, Maine 2010
Mayo Street Arts
We are excited to work with Mayo Street Arts in the continuing exploration and presentation of a very personal, spiritually based tradition in the public arena. For further exploring Dias de los Muertos expressions as both folk art and fine art, inviting both traditional and contemporary approaches.
This ofrenda will open for viewing and sharing a few days after dia de los muertos holiday. Hogfarm Studios will install the ofrenda on November 1, in time for spirit friends to enjoy the table, but the party will continue several days after the traditional Dia de los Muertos celebration.
Items placed invite a variety of loved ones and people important to us to sit and enjoy some of their favorite things. We’re confident those asked to our table won’t mind, too much, our extended or delayed feast. Hopefully those in the afterlife find our attachment to time and constraint as “our deal,” so to speak, and will humor us. The days of the celebration have shifted before.
Coco’s mom railed against rules and restrictions, anyway. And i’m sure Elliott isn’t overly invested in holding us to a particular day. Odetta seems very understanding and patient, and Elvis Aaron, we bet, has such a busy schedule he’d appreciate an after party. The only one that might be a little miffed by the off day is Gil’s pa, Armando. He prefers things to be the way they ought to. But we know once he’s settled in with his snacks and drink and good company he’ll completely let that go. He was never, ever one to hold any sort of grudge.
This is a community ofrenda. We hope that your beloved will join. Please bring items – drawings/photos/mementos/favorite snacks/drinks to join the table.
Our loved and honored –
Sandra P Cummings
Armando S Corral
SP Elliott Smith
Elvis A Presley
we invite you to invite yours!
love, peace, and fair trade,