Monday, June 2, 2008

El Dia de Los Muertos(Day of the Dead)

I am doing this post for sweet Pixie Heather of Audrey Ecletic. I went to an Art Institue in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico(where I studied batik and silver smithing among other things) when I was in college and lived with a wonderful family there. I learned all about the culture and got pretty good at speaking and writing Spanish(I also drank plenty of tequilla!). After that, I stayed for a while and then lived in New Mexico for a while working more on silver and tin smithing. These experiences have really shaped my art. I love the colours used in the South American Art and I love making shrines and altars to my deceased loved for the Day of the Dead(El Dia de Los Muertos) which is on November 2nd. What I love about this Holiday is that it is one of joy and remembrance. Families take their deceased loved ones' favorite foods, candles and marigolds to the cemetaries and have all night picnics. There is music, dancing and parades to celebrate. It isn't in any way scary or has a horror/ick twist of Halloween here. They also make altars for their loved ones in their homes which are just amazing.

For the past several years, I have exhibited my own altars at a local Art Center that has a blow out awesome celebration for The Day of the Dead. Last year I helped to make sugar skulls which I have always wanted to do after seeing so many gorgeous ones in Mexico and New Mexico. So far, I have made altars to my deceased pets(for my Donkey Rosebud,my little Siamese Cat Lang, and my twin sister's little dog Sister Mary-I also made this altar with my now ex-husband so he helped me and we made it for his pets too and to celebrate the 4 little blacks we now have-well, I now have), My Grandmothers(with my Great Aunt Fagella from Russia who was like another mother or grandmother to me), and My Grandfathers(I have 3 because I was lucky enough to have a super sweet and wonderful Step Grandfather). I use my handmade dolls, my paintings, monotypes and found objects for my altars. One of my favorite things was in the altar to my Grandfathers. When I was at summer camp as a little kid I made a punched tin sign for one of my Grandfathers that said "Pop"(what we called him). He hung that little sign up in his house for the rest of his life and typed out a letter for me telling me how it was a "masterpiece" and how he and my Nonnie thought that I should grow up to become an artist one day-well, I am trying! I was lucky enough to get the tin back and have it and his letter framed together.

I have so many ideas for this year and I usually have to get started in the summer so I better start getting my act together! Here are photos from all of my previous altars.


Sandra Evertson said...

Mmmm, Fantastic, I have just melted away!
Sandra Evertson

RowanDevoe said...

That sounds good! I wasn't really paying attention to how I was posting the photos and didn't really mean for the first photo to be my face with a bottle of tequilla! Thanks for stopping by.

Heather said...

Aw, I love your El Dia alters! Your work is amazing. Anyone who says differently is green with envy ;)

Maybe I should start making some dia themed items too (hey, you know I love halloween, dont knock it girl!)

Your art is always so vibrant and bright, I can definitely see Mexico's influence on you. You have such amazing stories! Wondeful stuff :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Merle!!

I was so excited to hear from you! And your blog is so wonderful! I hope you are feeling better, I think about you so often my friend!
I will send an email very soon!


RowanDevoe said...

Great to hear from you both! Heather, I definitely think you should do some day of the dead art-i have kind of exhausted myself with it after all these years! it is your turn!

I hope you and your family are doing ok. I think about you all the time and am trying to get back to doing art. I actually got a few commissions done so I am hoping it will become like it used be-I am still planning on doing the portrait of you and Winnie! Take care.

CatHerder said...

Awesome as in the world did i miss your cat dolls after all this time????? Those altars are to die for (no pun intended) My kitty altar is kind of plain, now i think i would like to step it up a bit. great pics...inspiring as always

RowanDevoe said...

Thanks Terri! I made this years ago and these were my first cat dolls-they actually can bend and stand on all four paws-I didn't really want to make them so human. Altars are great because they look better the more you "add on" things and as they continue to grow. Thanks again.