Dia De Los Muertos Exhibit Honors Shared Grief At Chicagos National Museum Of Mexican Art
For some, the final days of October are an excuse to dress up in costume, rewatch classic horror movies and consume copious amounts of candy. For those of Mexican heritage, the season brings anticipation for Dia de los Muertos Day of the Dead a ceremonial tradition observed from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
The centuries-old holiday celebrates the spiritual return of deceased relatives to their families, according to the Associated Press . Ancestors are welcomed with their favorite food and drink at gravesites or on altars known as ofrendas according to AP.
Ofrendas are often adorned with marigolds, candles, photographs of the deceased, calaveras de azucar replicas of human skulls handmade from sugar paste and pan de muerto or bread of the dead, according to Smithsonian Magazine. The exhibit combines ofrendas with other art mediums to create a celebration of life and grief, according to the museum.
At the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicagos Pilsen neighborhood, the vibrant culture of Dia de los Muertos is on display with ofrendas made by local Mexican artists. The ofrendas vibrantly showcase the holiday through traditional objects and symbols.
Now onto its 36th year, the 2022 exhibit is titled Memories & Offerings. The exhibit commemorates those who passed away due to COVID-19. Works of art pay tribute to grief and shared suffering while reminding viewers of the importance of remembrance and acceptance.
The National Museum Of Mexican Art In Chicago
Chicagos National Museum of Mexican Art has many works relating to spiritual themes, especially the Virgin of Guadalupes importance in Mexican culture.
You might not consider an art museum to be a holy place, but I think Chicagos National Museum of Mexican Art qualifies as one.
Located in the heart of the citys Pilsen neighborhood , the museum celebrates both Mexican and Mexican-American art. While not large, the museum is a visual delight, full of works that vibrate with life and beauty. No museum-white walls hereinstead the works are displayed on brilliantly colored background.
I knew I was going to like this museum when I entered its first exhibit and saw a large painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This is the most important and powerful symbol in Mexican culture, explained our guide. Even if someone is an atheist, they value the Virgin of Guadalupe because she represents the triumph of hope over fear and oppression.
This representation of the Virgin Mary derives from 1531, when the Mexican peasant Juan Diego received a Marian visitation in what is now Mexico City. The iconic image of a dark-skinned Virgin Mary represents the contact between the Spanish and the native peoples of Mexico, but she also serves as a bridge between the Aztec and Christian worlds. For many indigenous Mexicans of the time, the Virgin Mary was similar to Tonantzin or Coatlicue, who as Aztec goddesses were also the mothers of gods.
Ancient Ontario Smoking Pipes
The smoking pipe was a distinctive cultural feature of thepre-contact Iroquoian-speaking peoples in Ontario, including theHuron and their ancestors. Most were made of pottery, but sometimesstone was also used. These pipes show a significant degree ofindividual craftsmanship, yet still conform to certain sociallyaccepted styles or types, based on bowl shape and decoration, asidentified by archaeologists. Pipe stems were sometimes decoratedtoo.
Effigy pipes appear in the Ontario archaeological record fromabout the 14th century until after European contact inthe 17th century. Their bowls were modelled intoanthropomorphic or zoomorphic figures, or ‘effigies.’ Research indicates thatthe style of zoomorphic figures remained comparatively unchangedover the period. Representations include salamanders, snakes, owls,bears, and wolves or dogs. The most common effigy was the humanfigure, in particular the face, of which there are many differentforms and embellishments.
Various interpretations of effigy pipes have been described andpublished over the last hundred or more years. Their meaningappears to be complex, requiring multiple explanations that arespecific to each effigy. Some zoomorphic figures may represent clanor lineage totems, others may be cosmological symbols. Human facesmay have an association with medicine mask ceremonies or withpowerful or influential individuals.
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Day Of The Dead Exhibit Opens At National Museum Of Mexican Art
CHICAGO — A long line was wrapped around the block in Pilsen Friday night for a chance to celebrate one of Mexico’s most cherished traditions.
There was a packed house at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., for the opening Friday night of the annual “Día de Muertos, Memories and Offerings” exhibit.
The annual exhibit features art, photography, and beautifully-decorated altars.
“So Day of the Dead really is this celebration from Mexico that goes well beyond the Mexican community and is now a tradition in Chicago without a doubt,” said Cesareo Moreno, chief curator of the National Museum of Mexican Art. “Although it’s called the Day of the Dead, it’s actually a celebration of life. This tradition from Mexico is really a very beautiful way to honor those who are no longer with us to remember our loved ones.”
The exhibit also features works dedicated to those lost in the Ukraine War, and an installation honoring those killed in the Uvalde, Texas school shooting.
The exhibit runs through Dec. 11.
First published on September 23, 2022 / 9:54 PM
Remembering And Pushing For Change
In Texas, aside from the altars and the remembrances, several Latino organizations, community leaders and Democratic elected officials members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus are marking Día de los Muertos by marching and making a case for gun control legislation.
The Marcha de los Niños, or March of the Children, will take place in several cities in a special tribute to the Uvalde victims.
We felt that it was an opportune time for us to use something thats so significant and part of our cultural traditions … as an opportunity to remind people of the tragedy, said one of the organizers, Paul Saldaña, a co-founder of the advocacy group Hispanic Advocates Business Leaders of Austin.
Organizers in Austin will begin their march, led by nine families of the victims, at the Capitol steps by holding a vigil and a procession, eventually ending at the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Austin, where an ofrenda will be placed in front of the mansion.
“I think it serves as a very powerful reminder of what’s at stake,” Saldaña said.
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National Museum Of Mexican Art
In 1982, Carlos Tortolero organized a group of fellow educators and founded the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum which opened its doors in 1987. The goal was to establish an arts and cultural organization committed to accessibility, education and social justice. The museum also provided a positive influence for the local Mexican community, especially since many other art institutions did not address Mexican art. Over the years, the institution has grown its audience, has broadened and its reach now extends across the United States and beyond. To support this evolution, in 2001, the museum expanded to a 48,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Pilsen and in 2006 we unveiled a new name, the National Museum of Mexican Art. While our presence has grown, the NMMA remains true to our founding mission: To showcase the beauty and richness of Mexican culture by sponsoring events and presenting exhibitions that exemplify the majestic variety of visual and performing arts in the Mexican culture to develop, conserve and preserve a significant permanent collection of Mexican art to encourage the professional development of Mexican artists and offer art education programs. Today, the NMMA stands out as one of the most prominent first-voice institutions for Mexican art and culture in the United States. We are home to one of the countrys largest Mexican art collections, including more than 7,000 seminal pieces from ancient Mexico to the present.