Día de los Muertos: The Art of Remembrance
When we think of Halloween we usually think of mountains of candy or house parties. But there is a lot more to this holiday – an artistic and very spiritual side. This is especially true in Mexico and the rest of Latin America where the traditional holiday of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated. Day of the Dead is a holiday commemorating friends and loved ones who have passed, and is a time to celebrate their lives often through festivities such as altars, costumed parades, music and dancing.
Of the various Día de los Muertos celebrations the Torpedo Factory Art Center seems the most intriguing. They will be celebrating their 4th annual Day of the Dead extravaganza to be held on November 2nd from 8-11pm. There you will find an exhibition of artist-made altars and Día de los Muertos themed artwork. Partygoers are encouraged to wear costumes (there will be a costume contest), bring their creativity (there will be an hands-on art project to make our own mini altars out of cat food cans), and finally there will be a dance party featuring live music by The Torches.
The Torches are an awesome band that has a festive, gypsy/eclectic rock sound. They played at this event back in 2010 and they came in full Day of the Dead costumes with carved pumpkins to spell out their name. This year, fortunately for us, they have agreed to play again to set the mood for the Día de los Muertos fiesta.
Target Gallery will also have Día de los Muertos: The Art of Remembrance on exhibition adorning the main hall of the art center on view from October 29th - November 4th. The work, including artist-made altars and other Day of the Dead inspired artwork was juried by Gabe and Scarlett Pons of PONSHOP art studio and gallery from Fredericksburg, VA. The couple was invited to select the artwork by Target Gallery and chose works made by local and regional artists. They will select first, second and third place awards which will be announced at the party on November 2nd.
I had the opportunity to briefly speak with Gabe Pons earlier this week about how he came to jury Día de los Muertos: The Art of Remembrance, his selection process and what Día de los Muertos meant to him.
When we spoke he told me that back in 2009 he met the folks at Target Gallery when he participated as an artist in an exhibition based on street/graffiti art called Fresh. So when Target Gallery reached out to him and his wife to jury this exhibition they gladly accepted the invitation and put together this new exhibit.
When selecting artworks they looked for a sense of a genuine sincerity; something that commemorated and celebrated loved ones that have passed on. They wanted artworks and pieces that spoke to spiritual connections and authenticity. We talked about how traditionally European funerals are a time of grief and sadness while in the Mexican and Latin American tradition it is a celebration of the person’s life. I find this to be an interesting perspective and a healing way to view the loss of friends and loved ones.
In Gabe and Scarlett’s juror’s statement he says some things that are very touching about the exhibition and what to expect:
“Speaking both of the exhibit as well as the model of the altar, this is a collection of objects that come together to tell a story - a carefully crafted narrative that speaks to the spirit, once embodied in a human vessel and now re-presented, illuminated, and shared with the community. This is a celebration of the soul that we share with those around us and with the souls of our past family, friends and loved ones.”
“Selecting work for the exhibit embodied all of the criteria just mentioned. We selected pieces that spoke to the timeless and infinite, the celebratory and personally nostalgic. With regards to the assemblage pieces, we paid close attention to the use of materials, craftsmanship, and the interrelationship of the various components. In terms of the two-dimensional works, we selected pieces that exhibited the commemorative and festive spirit of this tradition taking into consideration the incorporation and interpretation of the tradition’s striking iconography. Finally, we selected work that expressed sincerity and a humility in execution – comparable to the tradition of the Dia de los Muertos celebration.”
Costume & Dance Party: Friday, November 2nd, 8-11pm
Door: $20 or two for $35 (Tickets $10 each with a Student ID)
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