The Maude Kerns Art Center celebrates the 28th annual Día de los Muertos Exhibit in 2021 with artwork by 18 participating artists, eight community altars, and a special Day of the Dead Gift Shop. The exhibit, which can be viewed in person or online, is on display through Friday, November 5.
The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration acknowledges the link between the communities of the living and the dead. The holiday blends the ancient harvest rituals of the Aztec god of death and the Roman Catholic holidays of All Souls and All Saints days. On November 1 and 2, the dead are thought to return to partake in the activities of the living. Holiday activities include the creation of altars that welcome deceased loved ones.
The jurors for the 2021 exhibit were Jocelyn Moreno, Andrea Ros, and Maria Sollo. The 18 participating local and regional artists display work in a variety of media, including oil, watercolor, acrylic painting, photography, ceramics, mixed media, textile art, and linocut block prints.
A Day of the Dead Gift Shop presented by Suzanne Algara of Buganvilla Imports features authentic crafts created by Mexican artists, including Catrina figures, Day of the Dead dogs, nichos (decorative religious altars), milagros (charms), an array of skulls, and more.
Eugene artist Patricia Montoya Donohue says that she was initially inspired to create by watching her favorite “Tía” (Aunt) Cheva put so much dedication into the things she made with her hands. Although she considers herself to be principally a basket maker, Donohue has expanded into other media. For this year’s Día de los Muertos Exhibit, she displays a series of colorful mosaic tiles with skulls.
Coburg artist Analee Fuentes exhibits a series titled Reinvented Accessories for the Modern Catrina, including a purse, high heels, bra, and fascinator. These objects were inspired by Fuentes’s musings on what Catrina (one of the most well-known Day of the Dead figures) might wear in the age of Covid. In addition, Fuentes displays an acrylic painting, With Gratitude, of a nurse/skeleton in a decorated coffin. Fuentes comments on the Art Center’s Día de los Muertos Exhibit: “This celebration and its accompanying artwork helps keep me in the moment and appreciating my time here. It is a reminder that life is a magical wheel, not a finite event, and that it is important not to take oneself too seriously.”
Eugene artist Sheryl LeBlanc shows a vibrant art quilt called Julian, Messenger of Loving Kindness with a central image of a skeleton wearing an enormous headdress made of roses and butterflies. In the background are small, intricate images from the natural world, skulls, mermaids, and other symbols related to the Day of the Dead. LeBlanc says: “I am greatly inspired by the theme of Día de los Muertos and annually add to that series. Usually, I have something I want to say in one burst … which results in a single visual statement on fabric.”
In addition to artwork, the Día de los Muertos Exhibit includes eight altars or “ofrendas” created by individuals and community groups, including an altar dedicated to the Art Center’s namesake, Maude I. Kerns. The ofrenda is an offering to a dead loved one that includes favorite foods, photographs, and traditional items meant to attract the spirit of the departed.