Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dia De Los Muertos aka Day of the Dead

They are coming and they are going
and you see them passing by.
They are walking over here, they are walking
over there...these are the dead.  
How happy they are!

Today starts Dia de los Muertos.  Where people in other countries are grieving their loved ones, in Mexico the festivities are just beginning.  Offerings to the dead have been prepared and alters are finished being built.  I spent last Saturday working on an alter at Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, TX.  There I met local artist, Lorena Angulo.  When first entering the room one cannot help to notice the big alter that takes center stage and the smell of incense burning. Incense represents the physical to spiritual change and maybe keep out some bad spirits.
Lorena arranging a sugar skull.
Lorena also showed me how to make flowers out of tissue paper.  She explained that the colors purple represented grief or pain, orange represented the sun, and yellow represented death.  We talked about our culture, art, and many, many things.  What a lovely lady.
I was not there for the completion but here you have it.  Gracias Lorena for the picture!
Completed Alter at Southwest School of Art by Lorena Angulo
People have always said that I lean towards the macabre.  There is a quote that was put on Facebook yesterday I think explains a little as to why I do.

"While death burns the lips of other cultures, 
Mexicans are familiar with death, 
joke about it, caress it, sleep with it, 
celebrate it; 
it is one of their favorite toys and their most steadfast love."
~Octavio Paz

I have made a lot of designs in jewelry but am always happiest when making skulls.  A friend of mine last night actually told me that she thought my best work was with the skulls and why not concentrate on that alone?  Oh...would not that be business suicide?  Hahaha!!!
Who knows but I think I need to do what I love.

Currently I am having mucho fun at making these skulls and am in the process of designing more skulls of a scary kind.  These skulls are made from recycled Louisiana license plates, found objects, and tin collected from several places, Mexico being one of them.  Although a friend of mine brought the ones from Mexico on over.
Invasion of the TinSkulls!
TinSkull says to "Have Courage".
I was overjoyed when Maria Fomich of Adorn & Conquer said she would like to carry them in her gallery on Magazine Street here in New Orleans.  Yay!

Other artists also lean toward Mexican folk art.  Here are just a few of those Rock Stars...

Lorena Angulo's medium is precious metal clay, aka PMC.  I always joke on how everything she touches turns to gold!  I am surprised that her kids are not solid gold as well!  Hahaha!!!  Anyway Lorena migrates to her culture as well as I and has a passion for Mexican folk art.  Her pieces are fabulous!  More of Lorena's work can be found here.
Can she sculpt or what?!
Lorena 2012
One does not have to be Mexican to have the passion of Mexican culture and this is most evident in Amber Leilani Middleton's work.  Amber is a local New Orleans artist and works with paper clay to sculpt these lovelies!  BEAUTIFUL!!!
More of Amber's work can be found here.
Frida and Diego by Amber Leilani Middleton
Jesse Bert is an artist that lives and works in his studio in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  His inspiration comes from his surroundings and adventures of exploring Mexico when he is not in the studio.  He likes to incorporate recycled material or anything he finds while meandering around Mexico.

Introducing Ms. Catrina.
She was created using torch fire enamel on copper and recycled silver spoons/forks and other found objects.  More information about Jesse can be found here.  Ms. Catrina is currently at display at Thomas Mann's Gallery here in NOLA.
Ms. Catrina by Jesse Bert and Raquel Jasso
November 1st is the time that my spirit misses Mexico the most.  Last year we were in Oaxaca, Mexico to celebrate Dia de los Muertos.
A place to witness one of Mexico's celebrations in full swing.
Absolutely beautiful!

I would like to share a few pictures of Oaxaca during Dia de los Muertos...
Oaxaca, Mexico
Oaxaca, Mexico
Oaxaca, Mexico
So there you have it!  I could go on and on and on about Dia de los Muertos.  There is still so much to talk about.  Skulls are not just for Day of the Dead.  They dominate my life and decor all year round.  I even carry one on my shoulders every single day!  Hahaha!!!  I know...I have jokes.  Not very good one either!  Hehehe!!!

 Here is a picture of just one of my skulls in mi casa.  His name is Alfonso.
Named after the artist who made him.
by Alfonso Castillo
Muchas, muchas, muchas gracias Mary Jane for inviting me to be a guest post.  It is truly an honor.

Have a great Thursday or All Saints Day or Day of the Dead!





Gypsea said...

Wow, I learned alot from your post. Very interesting! I never would have thought of yellow representing death but then again I do look very sick in yellow, humm.

Barbara said...

Thank you so much for joining us Kalaya! I agree, your skulls are fantastic and thank for sharing the beautiful alters and inspiration! Make me want to try some skulls of my own!!!!

Amber Leilani Middleton said...

wonderful post, my friend! i hadn't seen those pics from oaxaca! truly stunning. keep up the work on your skull pendants! you could do that and nothing else, they are sooooo fabulous!!

Julie Holmes said...

Hi Kalaya. Your skulls are fantastic and I think it's fabulous that jewelry is yet another way to help inform and educate us all about different cultures and traditions. And may I make a darn cute skull yourself! Happy Dia de Los Muertos!

Kalaya Steede said...

Muchas Gracias Barbara and Julie! Calaveras (Skulls) Rock!!! ♥♥♥

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Ha! I loved the joke! What a great display of skulls. I think it is true that when you are truly passionate about something it shows. Your work is amazing!
MaryAnn :o)

Kalaya Steede said...

Thanks everyone for all your wonderful comments! That's what I'll be working on this season. Winter Calaveras! ♥♥♥

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