Día de Los Muertos Artwork

The Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico on November 1 and 2, honors the deceased. They believe that at midnight on October 31, the gates of heaven are opened, and the spirits of deceased children can reunite with their families for 24 hours. The Day of the Dead is centered around a lot of artwork, one of the more famous art pieces being the sugar skull. Mexicans learned how to create sugar art when the practice was brought into the New World in the 17th century. As the Mexican Sugar Skull website states, sugar skull art mirrors the “folk art style, which includes big, happy smiles, colorful icing, and sparkly tin adornments.” During the day of the dead, open vendors and markets are filled with handmade folk art that include skeleton designs in a countless number of different designs. Many people buy skeleton folk art to place in ofrendas and on tombs for the deceased. Outdoor markets also sell miniature skeleton figurines- the trinkets are supposed to represent someone who has died. The skeleton miniatures are typically engaging in an activity the person it is supposed to represent enjoyed while s/he was still alive. Another type of popular folk art are handmade paper flowers. During the Day of the Dead celebrations, paper flowers are often used to decorate tombstones and altars. Real flowers are also used during the celebration as it is believed that “the scent of the flowers will make the returning souls feel welcomed and happy.”

– Katie Chen ’20


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