The day of the dead is a 3000 year old celebration that takes place in Mexico on November first and second. Grace Kurth offered a creative workshop in the design and art theory room at Full Sail. Participants were invited to bring...
1. A box: cigar, wine, wooden crate or any wooden or cardboard box.
2. A photograph of a loved one you wish to honor. It could be a family member, friend, special person, or a pet.
3. Mementos: tokens representative of their favorite, hobbies, music, teams, foods, movies, special trinkets, labels of their favorite drinks,
4. Glitter, beads, fabrics, buttons, any type of embellishment you might want to add.
5. Paints, markers, color pencils to paint the skulls. Glues and any hardware you might need.
6. Optional items: candles, marigolds, sunflowers, empty bottle, shawl, cloth, or other items.
I brought my usual bag of art supplies and my curiosity.
The day of the dead is not a dark macabre celebration. In Mexican culture death is considered a transitional phase not horrific or scary. It intends to celebrate the people who came before us. La Katrina born in 1913 drew cartoons which showed skeletons adorned in the trappings of wealth. The image showed that no matter how wealthy you are you will go through the phase of death. Dandy skeletons both male and female are popular images.
Grace took a trip to Janitzio, a small island where the day of the dead is celebrated. As evening fell a long line of people with candles walked up to the highest point on the island. There they built alters called ofrenda which celebrated the life of a loved one. Marigolds which represent regeneration were garlanded and used everywhere as decorations. Skulls of sugar called Calacas were ornately decorated to remind us that life is a delicious sweet indulgence. "Just when the caterpillar thought it was over, it became a butterfly." Grace quoted.
Tom Buzbee brought in many photos and documents to commemorate his Papa. His father was a diplomat with a long square beard. Bananas were perched on the center rise of the ofrenda. Tom explained that when his father was sick in his final days he took to hoarding fruit in his room. Whenever he left the room there would be a scavenger hunt to find the hidden fruit. A small raisin was found years later that was once an apple. The smell of ripe bananas brought back vivid memories. Two of his daughters helped him make the altar. Libby was hot gluing long white whiskers onto the jaw of a skeleton, a stunning tribute to her grandfather's whiskers. Avaryl had exotic skeletal tattoos on her chest and arms, a living celebration in the day of the dead tradition. She was busy decorating tiny skulls in bright colors. The room buzzed with creativity and stories of lives worth honoring.