Dia de Muertos is so deeply embedded in the fabric of Oaxacan life, that the typical three days of commemoration from October 31 - November 2 is apparent everywhere throughout the year⏤mostly evident on walls that are painted with emblems. Living in our village of San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, just outside of town, I have been deeply influenced in my own way, and expressed my feelings in a body of art that surprised me, and even more so, the people who have collected and watched my work over the years. I created a series of skeleton paintings.
|Viaje Final, oil on linen, 90x140 cm|
While making these paintings, I had to admit it was not in any way a commercial venture. Even so, I harbored feelings of hope that these works were not for myself only, but would be received publicly somehow, someday. Lo and behold, our wonderful neighbor Mayolo who makes fabulous tin frames for Amy and I, went in to town smartphone in hand equipped with a screen to show off the website DosVenados I recently created for our Mexican art. Immediately he secured one of the best galleries in the city to show our work, called CuatroSiete Galeria. It happened so suddenly and amazingly, our paintings are already up on the walls and even figure prominently near the gallery grand “ofrenda” the traditional altar, built to honor lost loved ones. People can walk in from the street to see it.
|, Acrylic on canvas, 70x90 cm|
Besides all the activity preparing our work for show, Amy’s sister arrived from Minneapolis to stay with us for nine days.
Oaxacan days of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) are marked by a joyous and colorful revelry that engulfs the streets in a lively atmosphere. As the sun sets and darkness descends, the city comes alive with celebration that honors and remembers departed loved ones. Streets adorned with marigold flowers and flickering candles create a surreal, otherworldly ambiance.
For me, as a photographer it is thrilling to see such color and artistry.
The three of us drive into the city every day and spend hours, witnessing parades, visiting ofrendas, walking the streets while mingling with crowds of people who most often have decorated themselves. The air is filled with the aroma of traditional Oaxacan cuisine, including the enticing scent of tamales and molé. Music echoes through the streets, featuring mariachi bands, folk musicians, and dancers, all contributing to the festive spirit.
Tonight we will visit a cemetery where families gather to clean and decorate the graves of their ancestors, offering their favorite foods, drinks, flowers and mementos, and lighting candles.
In our home we have made our ofrenda and decorated it while offering prayers.
Dia de Muertos in Oaxaca is not just a celebration but a profound cultural and spiritual experience, where the boundaries between the living and the deceased blur, allowing for a heartfelt connection with those who have passed away. The streets of Oaxaca during these days are filled with love, laughter, and a profound sense of community, making it a truly unforgettable and magical celebration.
Amy and I are especially blessed this year to have our artwork accepted and honored in Oaxaca⏤in the spirit of Mexico and Dia de Muertos.