Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day of the Dead Altar

As a calaca for the Day of the Dead festivities at Mattie Rhodes. My eye makeup was a little scarier than intended.

I can hardly believe it is so close to Thanksgiving. The past couple of months have just shot by. This fall has been filled with back problems (a story for another day), ACED classes, political ads, stressed out and exhausted students, new coworkers, fun family times, art projects, too many mochas, and good times with friends. 

Altar for Women by Maureen Baker-Barria, Rosemary Barria, Liz Black, Amy DeSitter, Anna Cathleen DeVore, and Alison L. Miller, 2012. Materials: Cardboard, fabric, sugar, newspaper, paper, paper ephemera, plastic beads, glass drops, dried flowers, and plastic figures.

One of the best experiences I have had this season was working on Altar for Women with a group of creative ladies for the Dia de los Muertos exhibition at the Mattie Rhodes Center. Mattie Rhodes, which is located on Kansas City's West Side, is an educational center dedicated to Latino arts and culture. I enjoyed working on this project tremendously. My partners and I often seemed to be of one mind, which simplified the decision-making process. I would be delighted to work with any of these women again. Our altar subtly referenced the attack on the rights of women, both in the US and abroad - cue the creepy arm crawling out from under the altar. 

The piece was exhibited under the group name Hyperkewl. Hyperkewl Projects was founded by Rosemary Barria while she was living in Chicago. According to the description on Hyperkewl's facebook page, "Initially a sound and video show in Chicago, IL, the heart and mind of Hyperkewl has become a collective of people interested in community endeavors and collaborative creation. Hyperkewl exists as an online information hub, a monthly event, and takes on various projects that we come up with. The identity and endeavors flux and are open to new ideas from anyone." Luckily for Kansas City, Rosemary has returned her talents to the area. 

Details of our altar are below:

Glittery doves and paper flowers.
Combative arm.
Blind Justice as Mary, or Mary as Blind Justice? You decide.
Vaginal references, paper flowers, candles and sugar skulls.
More sugar skulls.

Most of the altars were dedicated to family members. Because the altars referenced the daily lives of people who are now gone, they struck me as bittersweet reminders of both life and death. They were funny and moving at the same time, which put the viewers in a predicament. We were happy to celebrate the lives of those who had died, but we mourned the fact they were no longer here with us. 

Here are a few of my favorite altars:

This altar is gorgeous. Apparently, it's a permanent installation.
How beautiful is this altar!?

I found this to be an inspiring altar (detail).
The skeleton possesses so much personality! Plus, you could blow the horns attached to this altar.

I loved this quiet and delicate altar.

The altar below moved me to tears:

Adding a note to a loved one.

The instructions atop this altar encouraged each viewer to write a note to a loved one who had died. I wrote to my Aunt Vickie, of course. The simple process of hand writing a note to Aunt Vickie and then "delivering" the note into its cubby brought out so many emotions.

Did you do anything to celebrate Day of the Dead? Have you participated in any group efforts lately? I would love hear about them.

Alison :)

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