It only took an hour and a half to transform a blank wall into an altar celebrating the Mexican Day of the Dead, but the journey toward the completed installation has been development for weeks.
As part of Deborah Caplow’s “Mexican Art & Culture” course, students were tasked with creating the altar and creating the artwork that adorn it.
Dia de los Muertos is a long held tradition in Mexico, and offers an opportunity for family and friends to gather and celebrate those who have come before and who have passed on. The celebration usually consists of a number of traditional foods and collecting gifts and possessions of the deceased.
While the on-campus display reflects some of these traditional aspects, the student artworks are infused with a strong sense of contemporary aesthetics. The poems, sculptures, collages, and Warhol-inspired paintings that populate the instillation may not fit entirely within the patterns of the tradition, but they are certainly keeping with its spirit of remembrance, imagination, and gratitude.
“Creating this instillation was really an opportunity for students to honor the dead, explore a cultural tradition, and explore their own creative responses to their research,” explains IAS lecturer Deborah Caplow. “I think the end result really exceeded their expectations. They are very pleased.”