Eugene Weekly : Arts Shorts : 10.20.11


Celebrating Los Muertos

Death in Western culture is usually thought of as a somber time of bodily departure — it is also feared and rarely celebrated (with  the exception of a certain epic California jam band). The Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos is a celebration honoring the dead, joyously.

The “Día de los Muertos” exhibit that interweaves pastel pinks, boney whites and marigolds of the Aztec tradition kicked-off Friday, Oct. 14, at Maude Kerns Art Center to the cries of mariachis and the flaring of psychedelic colored dresses. In this exhibit, local artists highlight this praising of the dead and appreciation of Mexican culture.  

Maude Kerns Art Center features Día de los Muertos art from a number of local painters, sculptors and mixed-media artists. Traditional-style altars created by community members, such as Amigos Multicultural Service Center’s youth group, Juventud FACETA, and individual artists stand side by side in beautiful array. The altars vary from customary replicas with ofrendas (offerings) garnishing tables surrounded by candles and Día de los Muertos décor, to altars displaying plaster-molded skulls painted brilliantly with bold pink paisleys on either side. 

The mixed-media hangings feature local work by artists such as Jayne-Maya Chandler. Her piece “Un Viaje Agradable” (A Pleasant Trip), features two portions of vintage paper atop a canvas — one portion, the top half of a grey skull, the other, a bouquet of flowers positioned as if it were exploding out of the frontal lobe. Chandler’s work portrays modern death as a fool and explores possibilities of reaching higher realms in the afterlife.

The “Día de los Muertos” exhibit continues through Friday, Nov. 4, at Maude Kerns Art Center; FREE.   —  Andrew Hitz





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