Saturday, Oct. 29, with five hours of traditional Mexican food, music and arts
activities. But the Art Center's slate of programming for the Day of the Dead,
or Dia de los Muertos,
involves much more than the one-day event. The festivities include, among other
things, exhibitions by three prominent artists in the Art Center's galleries
this month and next.
One of the
featured artists, Salvador Jimènez,
uses an exhibition entitled Behind the Mask
Maskto honor Latin Americans who died while attempting to immigrate to the
chosen to pay tribute to several immigrants who died pursuing the dream of
migrating to the U.S. for a better life," Jimènez says. "As a metaphor of the shared dream
that killed them, I have created each of their altars as a personalized
portrait using the same basic mask outline. Behind
the Mask is intended to pay homage to people that died tragically,
remembering them with dignity and respect for the lives they lived and the
dreams they boldly pursued."
creating the personalized portraits, the Chicago-based artist exhaustively
researched the lives of individuals who died while emigrating from Latin America
America. "Using the information that I found about how the life of the
individual was like before their death," Jimènez says, "I had to use my imagination and
immerse myself in their stories and try to highlight their life."
those memorialized by Jimènez
are Reymundo Barreda and
his 15-year-old son, Reymundo Jr. The artist says of Barreda, "He was a strong man. All he wanted to do was
get enough money to build a house for his wife."
Barreda struggled to earn a
living as a farmer in the Mexican city of Veracruz. Jimènez cites the North American Free Trade Agreement as
contributing to the desperate plight of farmers in Latin America. "That
has become one of the main reasons why so many farmers have immigrated to the
States," he says.
Jimènez created a luchador mask, which traditionally is worn by a Mexican
fighter, for each of the individuals honored through his art. "All of
these people died trying to pursue the same dream," he says. "The
mask represents the fighter aspect of trying to go through all this hardship,
trying to cross the border and running out of water, and all the things they
For Barreda, Jimènez chose to surround his subject's mask with
farming tools. As for Reymundo Jr., who, Jimènez says, was the
star of his local soccer league, the artist chose to position a soccer ball
prominently below the teenager's mask. Two rows of marbles, representing youth,
direct the viewer's eyes to the ball, which rests atop the deep, capillary-like
roots of a tree.
Jimènez can fully appreciate the significance of the Day of the
Dead tradition, as he spent his early years living in a rural part of Mexico. "I
grew up in a community that views death as the continuation of life," he
says. "Instead of fearing death, we embraced it and celebrated the Day of
the Dead, remembering our loved ones that have passed away."
he anticipates people will respond to his exhibition, Jimènez says, "I hope that the viewer can see the
human aspect behind the mask and that everyone deserves to be treated humanely
and with respect."
Other artists and activities
addition to Jimènez's
work, the Art Center is also featuring the painting, sculpture and video
creations of Charles Gick in the Clowes
and Hurt Galleries from Oct. 7 to Nov. 27. In the Ruth Lilly Library, Beatriz Vasquez Schlebecker
Vasquez Schlebeckershows off the elaborate beauty of
Mexican folk art involving cut paper, in an exhibition running from Sept. 30 to
community altar is open to the public from Oct. 7 to Nov. 27 in the Art Center's
Churchman-Fehsenfeld Gallery and Frank M. Basile Gallery. This year's altar focuses on three inspirational
children, each of whom made significant contributions toward global peace and
goodwill. Visitors to the community altar are encouraged to bring a toy, which
will be donated to local children dealing with homelessness.
shrine exhibition can be viewed at the Art Center's Community Gallery and
Outreach Gallery from Oct. 14 to Nov. 27. The shrine gives people the
opportunity to honor deceased loved ones. This year's shrine also features the
folk art traditions of nichos
Center is offering 45-minute Day of the Dead tours, several activities for
kids, and a series of artist workshops, including one hosted by the
aforementioned Charles Gick in which participants will
learn how to preserve a memory artistically through the creation of an
details on the multitude of events connected to the Day of the Dead
celebration, visit indplsartcenter.org.