FemST 185 AG
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4 a 39E 39 39 39 39 x gt quotquot c 2 t L 39 quot 4 2 5 M F1 E 39 39 39 1 39 r p IL 3 T C39 39a r i 39 3 L 4 AND ALTAR39I NSPIRED ARTWORK ELIZABETH t 1iEz DEPARTMENT OF ART HISTORY UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES The altar inspired art work of Chicanosas draws from a tradition in which cultural syncretism has long been present Traditions of Pre Columbian Latin America were absorbed into those of the West through the rituals of Catholicism After the Conquest altars to Pre Columbian gods were replaced with those of the Catholic tradition but as Amalia Mesa Bains reminds us this suppression of their religion provoked in its wake disguised and layered religiosities that served to protect ancient beliefs and values Within post conquest Mexico the indigenous community survived albeit as a radical mutation of its earlier context in a host tradition that was otherwise violently opposed to it Today contemporary issues hold service with rituals of the past due to a recognition by artists of the historical potency of wellknown imagery and the relevance of the altar as a locus within the Chicano community to replace contemporary issues in the forefront issues addressed range from political activism directed toward urban and rural concerns in the community to feminism Altarinspired work therefore requires a reading that takes into account the complexity of contemporary political reality and an understanding of the historical relevance of older motifs which recreate the past while underscoring the presentln the following pages I will discuss those phenomena that inform altar inspired work In particular I will address how the artworks function in an institutional space such as a museum or gallery 39 The altar as adapted by artists draws a great deal of its strength from the intimacy associated with its domestic role In Chicano homes the altar reflects personal concerns Each element included within the altar is dictated by personal choice It is here that petitions are made and gratitude shown to those whom one chooses to honor When this syncretic construction true to its spirit of adaptation is adopted by artists and enters the museum space a conceptual shift occurs that impacts both the artwork s meaning as well as the space it inhabits Within the space of the museum the altar is no longer relegated to a private place it is new subject to the wider interpretations on the part of the viewer which are often dependent upon preconceptions of High Art that have historically been constructed by the museum as an institution By importing this uniquely personal sense of place that of a Chicano identity into a museum the institutional space is transformed The museum visitor encounters personaly andor spiritually charged images and installations that reference this dynamic tradition of the syncretic Llnderstanding the specifics of this tradition is dependent upon the viewer vis a vis hisher knowledge of historical and contemporary visual clues However altarinspired works are not mere receptors of the public gaze and institutional paradigms They have agency and can alter the way in which a contemporary museum traditionally functions when filled with work otherwise associated with such cultural religious or social references No longer is the new and the unique privileged over a sense of the familiar and the communal Within this altar inspired tradition familiar iconography is drawn upon and used repeatedly reconfigured and recycled each time an altar is erected Because these works tend to be ephemeral in nature and draw upon a shared lexicon of meaning and a shared experience among Chicanosas they challenge preconceived notions of timeless and immutablequot qualities within the canon of art and demand a place within the museum This fact becomes important when one considers that until recently Chicanosas were denied a place in contemporary art museums Altars have traditionally been used as sites for making offerings or used as the focal point of ceremonies or rituals and were in use prior to the Conquest in Mesoamerican religious ceremonies Once the indigenous cultures came in contact with the Spaniards and other Europeans the altar was transformed joining and mixing a variety of systems of meaning customs and forms This transformation accompanied the large scale violent destruction of Mesoamerican art and architecture and stateorganized beliefs Churches were erected over Mesoamerican religious sites and images of gods were either destroyed or buried if a tradition was to endure it did so because of its homebased private nature or because it was able to disguise itself This allowed for the survival of many indigenous practices which then adapted to fit the newly imposed Catholic tradition It is therefore important to remember that when Chicanosas reference the altar they are not only referencing European traditions but also the indigenous This serves as both an act of cultural reclamation as well as a way in which to preserve a personal history and a marginalized tradition a tradition that was denied its place in American culture until recently Contemporary altarinspired work therefore becomes a site of contention and negotiation as these various traditions and influences come together in one place 1 2 EtizAEiETH 1i 1rEz Perhaps the most important influences in the construction of contemporary altar inspired art are the home altars and ofrendas offerings with which many artists grew up Home altars are usually tended by the women in the family and almost always include an image of the Virgen de Guadalupe and the Sacred Heart of Jesus both of which are generally accompanied by the devotee s favorite saints or other manifestations of the lirgen or Jesus These images are either in the form of plaster cast sculptures chromolithographs or paintings and are usually taken to a priest to beblessed prior to being displayed within the home Having been rendered sacred the images serve as potent representations of the Divine and the Saintly within the home Candles are lit and placed before these images as are flowers symbols of perpetual adoration Not only are these altars comprised of religious images but they also are surrounded by personal souvenirs in this manner the sacred and traditional aspects of the altar and one s personal history become intimately bound together as one calls upon God and the saints for help and solace during difficult times or gives thanks when prayers are answered in this way one s personal and historic identity and immediate survival and sustenance are tied to these sacred sites within the home Ofrendas differ from typical altars in that they are traditionally erected on the Day of the Dead All Soul s Day This day is celebrated widely in Mexico with customs varying among rural and urban regions The ofrendas are usually erected within the home and serve as a special location there to honor and remember deceased relatives This is a time for sharing and the site of the ofrendas serves as a gathering place for friends and neighbors Individuals visit and reminisce about the departed while bringing offerings on behalf of the deceased Gifts of food are exchanged and a sense of community and tradition is maintained The elements of which the ofrendas are composed are very specificeach one playing a role in the journey of the deceased from the land of dead to the land of the living In addition to the deceased s favorite foods drinks etc there are nine elements in particular that are necessary to ensure the success of the trip Water the fountain of life which keeps the deceased from thirst on the long journey to and from their places of rest Salt an invitation to the feast and an indispensable element for the preservation of the body Candles symbols of eternal love Copal or other incense an offering to the gods and a way to ward off evil spirits White flowers ahel used for the ofrendas to children syrnbolizeinnocence and tenderness Cempasuchil lllarigoids are used for the ofrendas of adults and symbolize richness and Gold Gold represents Tonatiuh the sun and is the light that keeps the adult souls from losing their way A petate a large floor mat which in this context symbolizes a place to gather either to eat or rest Toys particularly a miniature lzcuintle a breed of dog usually for the souls of children it is this dog that helps the souls pass a dangerous river the first step in reaching Micrlaii the resting place for all those who die of natural causes Bread a fraternal offering demonstrating a familial connection and within the Catholic religion symbolizes the body of Christ And finally a round piece of bread with a piece of sugar cane through it This is an allusion to the Pre Coumbian tzompanti a skull rack where the bread symbolizes the skull and the cane is the bar used to hold the skulls CULTURAL SYNCRETISM 13 All of these elements are arranged in three levels each corresponding to a particular realm Sky Earth and the Otherworld This prescribed arrangement reminds the viewer that everything is here for a reason and carries with it a very powerful and purposeful meaning If the arrangement of the elements is not in order the deceased may not complete the journey thereby breaking the continuity between life and death The ofrenda is therefore about the survival of the deceased s soul Although the traditional ofrenda is a highly structured form within contemporary Chicano culture it has undergone a transformation in order to reflect changing needs Nonetheless many of the standard elements are retained particularly offerings of food photographs flowers and candles Likewise the home altar also follows its own contemporary logic As the scholar and art critic Tomas Ybarra Frausto has noted The grouping of multiple objects in an altar appears to be random but usually responds to the conscious sensibility and aesthetic judgment of what things belong together and in what arrangement Altares are organic and everchanging Due to the adaptable nature of the tradition altars and ofrendas within Latino and Chicano culture have been adopted by artists as vehicles for sef expression and exploration of cultural and spiritual identity enabling artists to create a rich and dynamic artistic tradition Because the home altar and ofrenda reference such a diverse number of influences they afford the artist a great deal of flexibility and operate as very powerful and personal forms with which to express oneself While the altar might appear stolid and resistant it has been in fact dynamic in its historic ability to manifest crossing from indigenous to institutional religion and from a personal place into the cultural space of the museum The altar s inherent dynamism and cultural history become the quality which these artists seem most interested in bringing into the stolid space of the museumquot along with the altar s history The altar then becomes a host for traditions that might have been obliterated by the violent encroachment of European belief systems In the hands of artists inspired by such a tradition the range of objects and the forms representation are enormous Taking a cue from home altars artists incorporate the vernacular ernploying everyday objects that relate to and reference a lived experience one which others can easily read and relate to Such objects can include party favors jewelry photographs toys flowers favorite trinkets and handcrafted items Although just about anything may be included choice is never random and each element has a very special meaning in a given arrangement Within Chicanoa altar inspired work cultural references also are made through the inclusion of popular Mexican referents such as cacti and other native plants and flowers chili peppers votive candles imprinted with the images of saints icons from PreColumbian codices and relief sculpture and traditional textiles These objects images and icons are readily recognized by people in Chicano and Latino culture and evoke particular readings based on a shared history and culture This cultural context is central to the ELIZABETH Lt 3iEz understanding of the works At the same time many artists draw on a Mexican tradition the works they produce are not copies of traditional forms and often depart considerably from the original function of religious altar pieces In this exhibition this is evidenced in the photo mural of Delilah Montoya Plate 34 the vases of Gloria Osuna Perez Plate 7047 and the small tables of Anna Jaquez Plate 89 It should be noted that altar inspired work falls outside the Western artistic tradition privileged by mainstream museums and collectors This is owing to an emphasis on collective memory rather than an emphasis on purely selfreferential work or on the concept of incessant innovation Altar inspired works are embedded in the past where memory plays an important role in the survival of one39s identity At the same time they also mediate between past and present The essential nature of afares and ofrendas as devotional statements changes when they are separated from the sociocultural nexus of their origin Although still functioning as ritual ceremonial forms their elaboration in the structured setting of an art gallery museum or community hall transforms the altar and ofrenda statements in their the altars new setting they become examples of multivocal exchange mediating between tradition and change I Here Ybarra Frausto is speaking of the Mexican tradition and the changes subsequent generations bring to that tradition As evidenced in the current exhibit the home altar and ofrenda are just a starting point for this work Each work references and is in dialogue with this tradition but has departed from it Once inside the museum space the work enters a very different context one that has its own history that historically has been in conflict with the values and beliefs of Chicanosas The artwork of Chicanosas is by definition highly political It has served as a forum for issues relevant to the community and has been part of the struggle to challenge the status quo This kind of political activism developed at a time when Cold War politics dominated and the art world and institutions in the US did not accept art that took political issues as its sublect Abstract Expressionist art for example which was supposed to represent freedom of expression was favored by the government because it could be manipulated for its own propaganda On the other hand those works that were politically opposed to a conservative government such as the marginalized work of Chicanosas served little purpose in this effort and thus were considered irrelevant it is also possible to bring into the larger context of this mediation between tradition and change the tradition of Western Art and the challenges and changes Chicanoa and other artists of color have posed to it Again this is particularly relevant when one considers that until recently most museums and galleries have privileged a very different type of artist and artwork institutional spaces traditionally showcased and honored the great artists of the West and the concept of the masterpiecequot prevails through Eurocentric proxies of Culture Within this construct art in its autonomy developed an almost sacred nature in which works that fell in line with a canon of exclusively Eurocentric ideals and concepts were venerated The unique work and the masterpiecequot and its exclusivity were concepts to be honored and upheld Each of these CULTURAL SYNCRETISM l 5 aesthetic conceptualizations then were reified and linked to traditional notions of aesthetic truth and linear concepts of progress That which transcends canonical status as an immortal masterpiece first must be reducible to a concept in which truth progress and the uniquely new are primary Ephemeral works alternatively such as those inspired by the altar tradition function in accordance with radically different systems of meaning Due to the often communal and personal orientation of Chicanoa artwork it is often at odds with a notion of autonomy and the import of aesthetic Truth Because it derives value from a tradition not accepted nor understood by cultural proxies of the canon it has been marginalized Altar inspired artwork is often ephemeral andor deals with common issues and shared traditions Additionally while art may be politically charged it does not assign a value to work based solely upon the autonomy of its political import Rather memory functions as a powerful resource that creates an intimacy between a many layered syncretic past and the present Many icons are used repeatedly and artists draw on family and cultural history which serve to reinforce or restore memory and as a result a tie with their Mexican and Chicano culture Exclusionist attitudes on the part of museums and galleries led many Latino artists to create their own spaces to circulate their work and thereby challenged mainstream institutions that upheld such beliefs and exclusionary practices In doing this Lalinos and other artists of color called into question the Western art historical tradition and the cultural hierarchies used to exclude minority participation Their efforts also served to widen the narrow definition of what constitutes art forcing museums to learn about these traditions to welcome their work and to recognize the respective issues that drive both meaning and motivation The purpose of the artwork is not necessarily to enter the art market nor to immortalize the artist Rather it functions as a way of bringing to the fore the artist s personal experience while also revealing current cultural concerns Drawing on traditional altars and ofrendas the work of Chicanoa and Latinoa artists also serve to reclaim traditions lost or marginalized due to assimilation into US culture As Ybarra Frausto reminds us ofrendas are not typically erected in Chicano homes as they are in Mexico In the US this is a tradition that was revived by Chicano artists and reintroduced within Chicano communities who had long since abandoned such practices Such is the case with Self Help Graphics in Los Angeles in the 19703 Sister Karen Boccalero and community artists organized a Day of the Dead celebration in order to reinstate this tradition among Chicanos The celebration of the Day of the Dead continues to this day at SelfHelp and has played a large role in creating a sense of community and communal memory centered around a very old Mexican tradition Inclusion of an altar within a museum space is not just about gaining access it is about actively changing the nature of that institutional space This is done when the work itself is not just a representation of one39s 1 6 ELIZABETH Li iEz culture but an active player in the manifestation of the so called other in a space from which it has been otherwise excluded if museums have not welcomed art which functions in accordance with systems of meaning that remain aiterior to the West39s political cultural and aesthetic concerns then this work is actively working to make recognizable a different sense of place Altar inspired work in its emphasis upon community and memory creates a Chicanoa place within an institutional space which often has ignored Chicanoa culture and traditions because these traditions as reflected in the work were not viewed as falling within the rubric of artistic truth in Imzigenes e Hisforias Images and Histories this culture and its traditions are reflected in the work of Chicana artists The themes and the roles of Icons and Archetypes Health and illnessquot Death and quot39llemory all function to create a sense of place and intimacy with one s culture in the space of the museum The work of Ester Hernandez for example demonstrates a tradition of social activism that has always been an important aspect of Chicano art Pate 72 She uses traditional icons such as the skeleton or calavera which is ubiquitous within Mexican popular culture and the traditional form of the altar to address a highly political issue The ofrenda was created to remember her deceased father a farm worker whose death was most likely related to the pesticides used on grape crops This very personal and intimate experience is used to call attention to a contemporary issue that is important for Chicanos because they constitute the majority of farm workers handling grape crops on California s Central Coast Brought within the museum the work serves as a voice for this cause in a space that traditionally has not served as a forum for such concerns When the work of Gloria Osuna Perez enters the museum space the museum becomes a public forum to share her experience and to come to terms with her illness Her altar inspired work 7996 1998 creates a place of healing and thanks as it is filled with personal objects given to the artist to help her win her struggle against cancer This work stands as an acknowledgment of those who surrounded her with love and support as well as a testament to her recuperation and victory over this illness Healing is also a very important theme within the Chicano community because it reflects a link to one s heritage and a continuity with the past Anna Jaquez in her Yerbas Buenas Series 199899 honors her mother s and aunt s remedies Pare 89 Childhood memories recall their power to heal both her and others Jaquez incorporates these iniportant herbs and remedies for a given illness into the body of her work Within this act of remembrance her mother and aunt become a metaphor for the power of women to heal and nurture as well as to bring comfort The artists while very aware of cultural traditions and attentive to their relevant existence in the present remain open to variation and change in regard to issues and themes as they present themselves The works of Barbara Carrasco included in this exhibition reflect this variation as they are not located specifically within Chicano culture In her Modernquot Day Atar Series Plate 7 Carrasco depicts Princess Diana Cesar Chavez CULTURAL SYNERETISM 1397 and llother Teresa as modern day icons who occupy a special place in contemporary culture due to their efforts to ameliorate conditions for the poor and the ill Diana in her support of the fight against AIDS and poverty Chavez in the United Farm Worker s struggle and Mother Teresa in her efforts to care for the poor in India The form Carrasco chooses also casts television as a modern day altar thereby pointing out the large role the media plays in creating our heroes and icons The role of women throughout Chicano history is an important element of this exhibition it is this history that reminds one of women s accomplishments and the changes that they have effected To this end the altars and ofrendas have not only been used to honor women they also have been used to criticize or challenge the way in which we view ourselves Figures such as the Virgen de Guadalupe often have been held up as role models for Latinas Although a positive figure the Virgen also represents a very lirnited and passive role for women Chicana artists through their exploration of identity in altars have pushed the proscribed boundaries of women s roles and identities both within and outside of Latino culture and Catholicism Barbara Carrasco uses her Modern Day Atars to honor women who were especially active in accomplishing their goals Rather than just endorsing a cause Diana made visits to countless hospitals and hospices and traveled the globe and Mother Teresa lived and worked for and among the poor These women then took an active role in effecting change even though this role was at odds with their social position In magenes e HistoriasImages and Histories a sense of place is created by introducing a highly personal spiritual and domestic tradition into a public institutional space These altar inspired works carry with them strong ties to culture history and spirituality as well as a sense of community In using icons and traditions that are familiar to the majority of Chicanos and bringing them into this kind of space the artists are inscribing it with a sense of Chicano identity Filled with altarinspired work the spiritual the political and the communal all find their voice The museum is no longer just a space in which to contemplate an autonomous work it becomes a place to remember to see one s history and identity represented in one s own visual and cultural language it also has the potential to heal and reclaim histories and thus may serve as a place from which to draw strength in the present ELIZABETH LflF EZ ENDNDTES 1 Amalia Mesa Bains Cu ratorial Statement in Ceremony of Spirit Nature and Memory in Contemporary Latino Art San Francisco The Mexican Museum 1993 p 9 2 Cipriano Gutierrez Martinez Mixquic un pueblo rico en magia ytradicion Mexico Cigumart 1997 p 1718 Author39s translation This isan excerpt from an account written by an inhabitant of Mixquic a town on the outskirts of Mexico City whose origin dates back to 1168 Mixquic through the maintenance of its rituals has preserved very close ties to its preconquest heritage 3 Tomas YbarraFrausto Cultural Context in Ceremony of Memory New Expressions in Spirituality Among Contemporary Hispanic Artists New Mexico Center for Contemporary Arts of Santa Fe 1989 p 10 Ibid p 11 Eva Cockcroft Abstract Expressionism Weapon of the Cold War Artforum 12 no10 June 1974 3941 Tomas YbarraFrausto Cultural Contextquot in Ceremony of Memory p 10 Marc Auge lllon Places Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity London Verso 1995 p 77 T453 quotfl CULTURAL SYNCRETtSM 1 9 I2 Communing with the Dead Spiritual and Cultural Healing in Chicano a Communities Lara Medina Remembering and honoring the dead during the Chicano tradition of Dias de los Muertos or Days of the Dead is a spiritual and cul tural practice responding to a complex historical process of coloniza tion including displacement from land language religion and identity These elaborate public rituals rooted in indigenous Me soamerican and Mexican Catholic beliefs in communingiwith the dead have proliferated in the last three decades due to the efforts of Chicanao artists teachers students and cultural workers As an cient Mesoamerican indigenous populations cyclically asked the hearts of their dead ones to return from the sacred mountains so that new life and new harvest might continue so too Chicanasos are replenished with new life and new hope when they invite their dead to return The reinvention of traditional ways to express con temporary concerns renews and recenters a people hungry for spiri tual nourishment in their ongoing struggle for justice and healing In Spanish the verb curar to heal refers to a holistic sense of heal ing The physical mental emotional and spiritual aspects of a per son must be attended to if he or she is to be fully healed The popu lar saying la cultura cura or culture heals is often used to refer to the signi cance of Days of the Dead for Chicanos a tradition that holds the healing power and memories of the ancestors 5 This chapter explores Dias de los Muertos as celebrated in the heart of East Los Angeles during 1998 at the internationally recog 206 HEALING FROM STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE nized Chicano a community art center Self Help Graphics SiIG As a Case study of how one Chicano community annually celebrates it offers insight into the process that numerous Chicano communities engage in as they honor their dead The healing aspects of the tradition receive emphasis as does its political signi cance for a population committed to the task of selfdetermination In ritual and artistic expressions of Chicano a spirituality the political cannot be separated from the spiritual In light of the history of colonization and the ongoing marginalization of Chicano and Latino communities the public ex pression of honoring the dead contests Western dichotomies between the living and the dead between the spiritual and the physical For a historically subor dinated population publicly remembering their ancestors takes on political meaning as the genealogy being honored is indigenous and of mixed blood a genealogy not intended to survive in the Western world Claiming public space including streets and parks to honor these others is an ultimate act of resistance against cultural domination MesaBains 1988 9 And others themselves parading en masse refute daily efforts to dismiss their very pres ence in an increasingly segregated society I argue that for Chicanos as a key to healing from the trauma of spiritual and physical colonization is the claim ing of ancestral indigenous epistemology that values interdependency between the living and the dead between living communities and ancient ones Dias de los Muertos at SHG Self Help Graphics the rst and primary Chicano a community arts cen ter and gallery in Los Angeles has played an instrumental role in reintroducing Days of the Dead to Angele os and the larger US population Begun in the early 1970s with the instrumental support of Karen Bocallero OSF SHG has enabled Chicana0 artists to exhibit and further develop their work Since then it has emerged as the leading visual arts organization producing and exhibiting Chicana0 art and culture in the country SIIG began celebrating Dias de los Muertos as a communal public ritual in 1972 While many Chicano families have honored their dead for generations ritual practices were of a more private nature with home altars and family visits to cemeteries Accord ing to art historian Sybil Venegas Sister Karen credits Mexican artists Carlos Bueno and Antonio lbafiez with suggesting that El Dfa de los Muertos be cel ebrated as a collective public art project aimed at cultural reclamation self determination and de nition 1995 I8 Community trauma experienced at the Chicano Moratorium in 1970 in East Los Angeles when police killed three Chicanos in a peaceful anti Vietnam War protest could also be addressed in the ritual The first celebration was on a small scale involving primarily artists and including a procession from the local cemetery the building of an o enda an altar for the dead and the sharing of food among the participants By COMMUNING WITH THE DEAD 207 1976 community members expanded the number of participants to several thousand Several years later SHG was host to the largest and most widely attended annual day of the dead celebration in California if not the US The festivities included a cemetery mass a street parade altar and art exhibits Venegas 1990 1 Catholic clergymen Gary Riebe Estrella and Iuan Romero presided at several of the liturgical celebrations until the archdiocese noti ed Sister Karen that Catholic liturgies in a secular cemetery could not be approved The archdiocesan action and a growing integration of indigenous beliefs and practices in the lives of the artists created a separation between the Catholic Church and the art centered ritual celebration SHG continued to sponsor Los Angeles s largest Dias de los Muertos celebration independent of church in volvement 39 Honoring the Dead in East Los Angeles The several hundred people gathering on a sunny November I 1998 morning at the intersection of Five Corners attest to a journalist s claim that Los Angeles must be the United States Day of the Dead capital Anon I998 Many are in full calavcm or skeleton attire the predominant icon for Dias de los Muertos Adults and children enthusiastically line up to have their faces painted to represent the skeleton within Others mingle with anticipation as they wait for the mile long procession to begin Many carry bouquets of bright orange cempoaxdchitl or marigolds the traditional owers for the o endas the bright color and pungent smell will attract the spirits of the dead Others at tentively watch a teatro performance on the north side of the small plaza por traying a son speaking with the spirit of his dead mother Words of forgiveness help reconcile a lifetime plagued by drugs and violence The beat of the Aztec drums noti es the crowd that the procession is about to begin Danzantes or Aztec dancers wearing feathered headdresses and beaded ceremonial clothing offer prayers of thanksgiving to the four cardinal directions with the scent of copal holy incense floating to the heavens Their prayers also invoke the pres ence of the ancestors from all directions of the universe Individuals couples and families quickly maneuver into line to begin the short trek down Cesar Chavez Avenue Banners publicize the political sentiments Cucmtas mds mas acres refers to the recent killing of forty Zapatistas in Actael Mexico and Vivan los muertos stresses the enduring presence of the dead An oversized papiermach calavera on a flatbed truck brings up the end of the parade The living proceed to honor their dead Death does not have the last word here in East Los Angeles Preparations actually began four months earlier Between September and October a total of fourteen art workshops were offered free to the public with Chicanoa artists teaching mask making altar making calavera crafts and 208 HEALING FROM STRUCTU RAL VIOLENCE Impersonating Mictecacihuatl Goddess of Mictlan place of the dead Olvera Street Los Angeles 1998 Used with permission from Lara Medina mural painting all in honor of the dead The creations would be used in the public ritual By noon on the day of the celebration the facilities at SHG are clearly marked as sacred space Led by Mexica danzantes the procession of living calaveras nds its way to the parking lot decorated with oversized papiermach masks large richly painted canvas murals and a centrally located pyramid shaped structure The allfemale danzante troupe blesses the event with copal and drumbeats as they circle the pyramid The procession of 400 begins to disperse and join the others waiting in anticipation A float depicting Quetzal coatl the feathered serpent deity maneuvers to the middle of the lot as the six foot calavem on the atbed truck parks close to the fence Children s masks papal picado or intrically cut tissue paper and two long tlatzotzompantli or COMMUNING WITH THE DEAD 209 Skull racks decorate the chainlink fence enclosing the parking lot The tint Zotzompantli resembles the one found in the Templo Mayor in Mexico City But these skulls with sunglasses and teeth bared in smiles reveal their South em Californian roots as they purview the festivities under way The opening prayer offered by En Lak Ech You Are My Other I a group of Chicana poets emphasizes the spiritual signi cance of the day ahead We would like to offer you all in a good way in a humble way a prayer song We would like to honor all those who have passed on all our ancestors our grandmothers and our grandfathers We want to pray for those who are yet to come and those that are here present with us today We En Lak Ech mujeres pray to the women and mujeres who have died through violence or through life and struggle We offer this prayer for you The day s schedule includes twentyseven performances offering more prayer music teatro poetry comedy and dance The music re ects the diver sity of the crowd mariachi Chicano rap blues Mexican rock salsa and reg gae Groups with names like Quetzal Aztlan Underground and Quinto Sol reflect the Los Angeles music scene incorporating an indigenous conscious ness The program for the day announces what can be expected Culture is not static And in the hands of artists it is volatile and exciting The traditions of Mexico are honored and respected and then added to modi ed to accommodate the North American expe rience of La Raza As is Day of the Dead a custom both secular and religious sacred and sacrosanct Christian and preColumbian the modern celebrations are old and new maintaining the most popular customs and prompting the next edge of invention Day of the Dead has become a paradigm for how local artists contribute to the quality of life in their community and it has become the ideal vehicle for sharing culture with the larger realm of society As the performances get under way it is evident that political concerns will be heard throughout the day as community members gather to remember and renew themselves for ongoing social struggles Social criticism informs many of the musical compositions The lead singer of Aztlan Underground responds to the power of the system toward Chicanos as So they can see a strong brown man a strong brown women And feel proud of who they are So we can nally stand up and take the foot of the oppressor out of this land 210 HEALING FROM STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE Themes of the actos reflect an indigenous consciousness Acto I Naza hualcoyotl Acto 2 La Carpa Tczcatlipoca Acto 3 Luchcmdo con la Vida Acto 4 twenty ve years of Chicanahuatl fashion and Acto 5 poem to M iquitztli One performance group Indians Teaching Spaniards ITS speaks to taking back the streets of Los Angeles not just one day a year in a procession for the dead but for all the living in Los Angeles Throughout the day people sit stand dance and mingle with family and friends as they soak in the richness of these cultural and political expressions The gallery space on the rst floor of SHG is packed with people viewing the room altars These sacred spaces reflect intimate lifelike scenes from the homes of those remembered One of the altar makers dedicates a sewing room to her mother A black Singer sewing machine a fulllength mirror and a dress form create the center of this ofrenda An ironing board draped with clothes provides a sense of the activity that once lled the sewing room Flowers crochet needles sewing boxes crocheted dolls and bolts of fabric ll this woman39s room a creative sanctuary away from the problems of everyday life or perhaps the workplace of an efficient seamstress Another room altar dis plays a 19405 kitchen one familiar to many Chicanos who grew up with a grandmother who healed others through her cooking A dining room altar adjoining the kitchen displays a buffet table lled with photographs owers and food offerings This altar within an altar emphasizes how the ofrenda tradition held a central place in this family space A backyard porch altar includes potted plants and a swinging chair where the artist s abuelos or grand parents used to sit Their shrine to Guadalupe calls to mind the home religious practices embedded in Chicano Catholic culture Near the entrance to the second oor another altar is dedicated to migrant farmworkers Its ve levels are lled with a dozen small blackandred United Farm Worker UFW flags and plenty of orange marigolds Blackandwhite photos of farmworkers ll three of the levels At the top of the altar is a pho tograph of Cesar Chavez and Senator Robert F Kennedy after Chavez s I968 fast A Guadalupe image is placed in the center of the altar with a cruci x nailed to the wall above Red and black papal picado outline the altar Another altar sponsored by the Wall an organization for gay Latinos honors those who have died of AIDS Photographs a statue of Guadalupe teddy bears and burn ing sage bless their presence Space is reserved for people to add names or prayers for others remembered By the end of the evening many names on green and white sheets of paper decorate the wall Pamphlets on AIDS pre vention and services for gay Latinos in Los Angeles are freely distributed as part of this ofrenda 39 From noon until ten in the evening several thousand people participate in the day s activities No alcohol is served at the event but an espresso stand provides coffee The aroma of Mexican food fills the air Vending booths sell COMMUNING WITH THE DEAD 211 An ofrenda created by a thirdgeneration altarista or altarmaker Ofelia Esparza Los Angeles 1998 Used with permission from Lara Medina Dias de los Muertos iconography Participants line up to get their faces painted calavera style Guitarists roam the area singing La Llorona The Weeping Woman and others serenade the dead In the far corner of the parking lot stands a fteen foot mosaic statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe Neighborhood Women clean and maintain the shrine on a regular basis Many folks who come to SIG identify her as Tonantzin the Nahua mother goddess This permanent shrine at SHG blesses the crowd and the celebration Approximately one half of the forty participants interviewed identi ed as Catholic and the other half no longer associate with organized religion or as one woman shared I follow Indigena ways that makes me balanced All recognized the importance of the day as they offered their respect for the dead As one informant explained Dias de los Muertos has become a signi cant spiritual celebration for Chicanos Without that sense of who we are and who our ancestors are we become a lost culture Many segments of our society are lost because they don t know their ancestry and they don t understand death Despite diverse religious af liations the sense of a communal identity per 212 HEALING FROM STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE vades the celebration With a shared purpose of remembering and renewing many participants acknowledge the value of passing on traditions and af rrn ing cultural spiritual and political values As one stated I love how families with their children are here teaching them the traditions and how to honor their elders Unless We teach them they won t know Knowing that the tra dition aids their resistance to marginalization adds to the importance of the celebration Another participant emphasized All we get from the media is that we Chicanos are worthless our children need to know their traditions so that they will know right from wrong when they hear stereotypes The rituals of making and exhibiting art constructing ofrendas parading in calavera and performing from the heart sanctify what is important here in East Los Angeles As one participant remarked Remembering and honoring is praying Through Dias de los Muertos Chicanos and Chicanas nd healing strength and renewal in their struggle to survive and prosper as a people Discussion Dias de los Muertos does not replicate Western patterns of exclusion The rite with its color humor and friendly spirit invites all people to ap proach death and the other without fear The silence of death and the pain of exclusion are healed in the festivity of this public mourning ritual As Fa ther Grey Baumann of Mission Dolores reflects In Anglo culture an altar for the dead seems bizarre because we divorce ourselves from the fact that we die We try to put it off in the corner and only face it when we have to The Latino culture is not afraid of death When you age you don t have to be ashamed Although the majority of Chicanasos have been Christianized there is a concerted effort by many to reinstate and identify with indigenous ancestral knowledge Estrangement from Roman Catholicism is due in large part to a historical attempt to assimilate Chicanos into a universal Euroamerican Ca tholicism compounded by the absence of native born Chicano clergy and the limitations placed on the authority of women in the ecclesiastical structure Many Chicanos however who have left the institutional church continue to identify with symbols that represent the faith courage and survival of their Catholic parents and grandparents Dias tie los Muertos re ects these alle giances as participants consciously construct a symbol and ritual system that contains signi cant elements of indigenous spirituality alongside the elements found meaningful in Mexican Catholicism Icons of saints Madonnas Gua dalupe and the sacred hearts of Iesus and Mary among many others continue to assert a strongpresence in visual expressions of Chicanao consciousness and spirituality Catholic icons share physical space with indigenous elements COMMUNING WITH THE DEAD 21 such as earth water fire herbs symbols of duality and images of non Christian deities such as Coatlicue the Nahua Mother Earth Goddess on many of the ofrendas This coexistence of Catholic and Mesoamerican symbols reflects an aspect of nepantla spirituality a spirituality at the biological and cultural crossroads where diverse elements converge at times in great tension and at other times in cohesion Nepantla is not syncretism in its limited meaning but an example of transculturation or a continuous encounter of two or more divergent world views The use of nepantla a Nahuatl term meaning in the middle was recorded by Friar Bernardino de Sahagun in the sixteenth century Dominican friar Diego Duran had reprimanded an indigenous elder for his behavior which appeared to the friar to be in discord with Christian and Nahua customs and morals The elder responded Father don39t be afraid for we are still in other words in the middle or as he later added we are neu tral Leon Portilla I990 ro The elder s presumed indecisiveness inter preted as the trauma of nepantlism resulted from forced cultural change producing a psychological and spiritual condition lled with ambiguity con fusion and conflict The indigenous or non Xestern self is forced to deny its essential being and become like the conqueror The state of nepantla however can become a site of transformative struggle and creativity a state of inherent being and meaning making Anzaldua I987 Perez 1998 Once the tensions of nepantla are understood and transformed and the indigenous self is reclaimed and continuously healed nepantla be comes a psychological spiritual and political space that Chicanasos can ap propriate or recast as a site of power Rather then being limited by confusion or ambiguity Chicanasos act as subjects or agents in deciding how diverse religious cultural and political systems can or cannot work together Iust as the indigenous elder could have very well been maneuvering the ssures boundaries and borders of his new world Chicanasos can consciously make choices about what aspects of diverse worldviews nurture the complexity of their spiritual and biological mestizaje culturalracial mixture and what for them enables communication with transcendent powers As a professor of religious studies and Chicanao studies I have witnessed Days of the Dead as one of the central expressions of nepantla spirituality in the pathway to healing Dias de los Muertos provides opportunities for healing for renewing and enlarging a group identity In a society that ignores Chicanasos as historical actors the mere act of remembering one s ancestors carries subversive ele nepantla ments For Chicanos as who are consistently portrayed as aliens to the dom inant EuroAmerican culture continuity with ancestral ways heals the wounds incurred by ongoing attempts to silence indigenous and mestizo peoples Re membering the dead who struggled to ensure life would continue for their descendants strengthens communal identity In the process a community of ZI4 HEALING FROM STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE individuals heals itself As Chicanasos revisit and consciously select an indig enous heritage that supposedly was obliterated through colonial pursuits they make a political decision as well as a spiritual decision As government and corporate actions show it is still not advantageous to be indigenous or Mexican Legislation opposing Latino immigration affirmative action and bilingual ed ucation reflects mainstream sentiments toward these populations And amid the deeper political meaning lies a rich spirituality respecting those who have gone before and celebrating our ability to communicate with them 3 The poem Miquitztli by Olga Garcia concludes as follows Us Mexicans We love our dead Love em like we do chile Like we do guitar wailing Corridos on drunken nights Like we do loud abuelas Smoking on blue porches We love our dead like re like memory like the bouncing reflection of all of us here now con cams pintadas bocas somiendo dancing in front of this smoking mirror waiting for it to break 39 NOTES I See Alfredo Lopez Austin Tcmtoanchan Tlalocan Places of Mist Niwot Uni versity Press of Colorado I997 2 Father Gregory Baurnann of Mission Dolores Parish interview with author November 19 98 3 Pastor Mike Kennedy Dolores Mission Parish interview with author Ianuary 1999 4 Translated as with painted faces smiling mouthsquot Poem read at SHG No vember I 1998 REFERENCES Anon Celebrate Dia de los Muertos All Month Long BOCA 13 6 Anzaldua Gloria I987 Borderlands La Frontera The New Mestiza San Francisco spinsters aunt lute COMMUNING WITH THE DEAD 215 Duran Diego 1969 Historia de las I ndias de Nueva Espana e Islas de la Tierra Firrne Vol I Mexico City Porrua Leon Portilla Miguel 1990 Endangered Cultures Dallas Southern Methodist Univer sity Press Mesa Baines Amalia I984 Altarrnakers The Historic Mediators In Oj erings The Al tar Show 5 7 Venice Calif Social and Public Arts Resource Center ed I988 Ceremony of Memory Santa Fe N M Center for Contemporary Arts of Santa Fe P rez Laura 1998 Spirit Glyphs Reirnagining Art and Artist in the Work of Chicana Tlamatinime Modern Fiction Studies 44 36 76 Sahagun Fray Bernardino de I96939IIistoria general de las cosas de la Nueva Espana Vol 2 Mexico City Porrua Venegas Sybil I990 The Day of the Dead in Los Angeles Report Los Angeles Pho tography Center 1995 Day of the Dead in Aztlan Chicano Variations on the Theme of Life Death and SelfPreservation MA thesis University of California Los Angeles I I6 homegrown damage Our memories of incest and domestic violence are also censored To ght the revolution we have to contend with these histories We have to excavate look and talk about it all While much of our resistance history has been suppressed by white hege mony African Americans are also collectively involved in creating false images Only recently have African American progressives begun to tell full and complex stories without concern for how those stories will be perceived by white and Black folks Amalia When you were talking about the caste system I was thinking about how Mexicans still have to come to terms with this in our own culture We spoke earlier about the tartar paintings that were made during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Mexico The Spanish establishing a form of racial apartheid delineate the ftythree categories of racial mixtures between Africans Indians and the Spanish And they have names like i ez39m e er 3 airs which means stain in the air and iwf2 arises which means jump back or ziizr rrzra a word that comes from mula the unnatural mating between the horse and the donkey Sambo is now a racial epithet in the US but it was first used as one of the ftythree racial categories in the 5 ffdJ paintings This shared language and imagery recalls the ugly history of colonization But the caste paintings also help us understand that we were together in out suffering abuse and genocide of that era Our lives and races and histories are still mixed together and if we examine this visual and social history we might nd a way to understand present struggles One of the most radical paint ings shows a Spanish woman and an African woman in identical dress standing side by side surrounded by the fruits of paradise On the surface the caste painting is not about the taxonomy of those women it is about the taxonomy of the fruit and the fauna Butthese women challenged the limitations placed on their dress and on their relationships Learning how indigenous and African descended people faced oppression and even outwitted a system of social apartheid gives us inspiration even now 39We as people of color are linked to one another ALTARS 39 er of the alt1i bell Amalia ioui air has gt en the poy 1 1 I 3 p 1 I393939 Lquot Pmticulmg as an icon in Mexican meiican lite mile 5 visibility in the US A alia 1 haxe played a big part in a movement lJ quot l39 Tl 39 r S C I 39 39 course it s been a collective effort so i haven t lJE39lt31quot1 110 Tllcll 39 39 39 landa C ii39li 1S 00 R391ll3l are M11615 mcllldmg mi ml toll I0 l 1 l l c fteii isl39etl i eoie1391 3939ltO lvlaradiaga and Carmen loinaslraixa s 1 1 in U Tm lo this kinrl of v39ork paiiieu iii If in orle39l s animosity towartl religiosity anti hastisetl me tor susiaiiiing 1 prac i39vingly etlinlt r139l lquotl39EVL39 ClquotlOSC1391 U C of the contemporary art W spirituality Some people l39iE1 39 c H H I I If H 39 i39ic orst St ticr that the W 15 lquot mmL to Di 393 1 l cle iiiii 39 39 lquotl139lO139I 1ip to a tars ant quot2 But I ve always said that in ie cl n39 time in art school it troes back to on Cl11ltll1JOLl P1quot3Cee i quot D 39 p f r Llll ll39tl in I LUI1 lt l My mothei was oi phaned iioung a i T Hr C tholic 0 c 39ei v tami iar wi i a for part of hei Childhootl so she vi as 39 c H 1 nd iny paternal grandmother ilariana fuscobeelo Mesa fl ll391139S I I c C I J I 39 39 he revolution in 1916 1 his move v 2139 I came fiom Mexico duiing t I tremendous and traumatic rupture in her lift but 2quot T 39 39 r I 139 quot J o i maintain the centialiti o tie iomt able to heal heiself ant i 39 39 to her clress me altai She kept it in liei bedioom a 1 1 1 has their favorite saints and my grant mot iei ed St iartin rle Porros lJecaL1Ht39 y she vczis through her ho er Every family who I believe was 1 I 1lX Cl1quotc39lCi393gt l0quot he was dark skinned l 398 lwmegrown 50 I grew u around tl yard Shrines 039 P I quotre home altai the church altar the i mpzgr the little chapels that rny godm h k And from an earl Qt er cpl 3 age 1 was aware that lt 39 uonships with the divine and the Squad at rnedgite our rela 39 W1 in our omes A1 most people don t reco nize tl 39 SO t 39 to church Pt1triarch bgecat s hi the home ltm is a counterpoint 5 l E 39 female gure in the family We 1 ltags are presided over by 3 The church has its Pwtriardl f lgrm mothel and my mother c 5 1 mgr h 1 y 0 priests but families often have 3 arc a spirituality Farly cx posures to home altars and d 39 39 many Chicanos to Create an that would 3 31111 shrines inspired erve tie communit r d ing in the l960s and l970s And twg tropes helped us 3 lflt their ideas resistance 1 39 Organize I I p I I colonial Practices 1 J limo ReS S 1 Cs Mt critiqued h IquotlLg I1quot1O1 l white racism A flirmation centered aitd elped us reclaim P1g1Ct1CES that made us unique as 21 people an W 11C 1 had sustained our c 39 E ulture 11 l tquot 39 including the traditions of the hom 3911hl igis ile elpviionments I remember croin an O In t E early days g home and lg T about tn rand h gt 3913 mg ml fmmlli mil q 1 35t10I1S 38 I1 mot ers altar Many of us were rst in the US so we 391cti eh E z Ssrond gene1gition Itujexlcans 3 I I1 Ii matiOn 3J My C0mpadreTOIbL yvlgtt I called cultural reclac nutrient Sources to refer to mm i usto mined the P113335 nourished us This included tl conr1itinitjr practices which had maintaining respect for the dildrif1g arI1l kec ptrlg Of the altars tions and making and keepin of I if 1 Ella ofthe Dead traclic times converted into politi iqgd 13 Hit 5quotiI 1I39lE39S that were some C saints or virgins in them but laltlls rtjss ieople began by Pumng them other things like mi C fer Peop C began to imbed with 2 OSHICS 0 broken plates Christmas li hrs even waterfalls 3 39 I think that one of 39 ths the centrality Ofthe icon itselftw lil fg saltileng 1lbPCCt5 of the altar is 3 Cl quot16 39 transformative gure that connects the T gin OfGu1idaluP5 3 Goddesses or the S quotquot Onamzms rt eMOthe139 ll c1 lI Nl d c Gum quotE 0 6 Atoche the little child that l 35 Very altar has an icono r l 8 1P 13 and each seeks to brin together the living and the dead These are the things th 8 learn ri ht awa vh at 3390 3 5 39 611 you start doing them in public ALTARS H9 I remember doing our first Day of the Dead cgi39eiirfor at the Galeria de la Raza which ii 1vol39cd making temporary and earl instead of the permanent and altar l was purposefully fusing the y sister with my grandmother and d immediately the old women in as ycry bad luck and ephemeral offerings to the d ongoing offering made at the two I placed the image of m I added my own face mask an the community came in to tell us that this w in an offering to the dead you never include an ing They could not accept that l was merging two oing record of the family in the ral practice of the offerings for very dangerous image of the liv traditions the permanent orig altar and the temporary epheme the dead For them they were two separate things I continued with the practice and adapted and innovated orked through this form it became clear why al on it and as I w csthey re a form of mtmoty tars have been sustaining to famili making and history miking and they accrue Thcy rc desirablc because they have layers so that at any moment you see an altar rstand the complexity and endurance of your family You e medals from your uncle who died in the war you will n baby booties you will see the dried flowers from eclding you will see the images of your mother e and groom you will see the face of you unde will see th see your ow your cousin s w and father as a young brid your great grand father and you will see the image of the newborn child because they are all in a cosmology ofthe family centered in is linked to the piesent The altar is sacred because memory that he belongings of the family it protects the family and it protects t the important family papers are there wliether For instance all rriagc licenscs or they are the tax papers baptismal records ma insurance papers things of value are kept in the space under the altar i lariy people have talked about it as a form of Itii39qxirrnOi39twri or as we say in the Chicano community making the most from Yard shrines for example can be made out of broken ut up Clorox hottles therc is nothing he on when you are elaborating these things l yc always been mystified when pcoplc lly art not Thcy rc not the least plates old marbles c neath your considerati they have their own logic call home altars catches because they rca I20 homegrown mass produced or comin f rom e th g a dominant society that identi s cm as valuable They re often handmad d 1 C an iave elem which reflect the in e 39 ems nuitv of h 39 And there are a1wWSgSiUnSOfth 13 famili ymcmlafers themselves quot 3 1 3 um 1 Signs o the indieeno E us within those altars Th e serve as where women 1 3 El Sacmd Spac and as 3 Place iave power bell Like Mexican Americans Black f lk 39 h 3 often constructed altars in 39 339 i O S In t e Outh t 1 enca which discouraged Peipll fiiibp tlilaich l Ch11SUamtY 5 mm Within the fundamem1liStPCl 1 avplg altars in their homes I c iristian c 391L1139Cl391 the lt All on th Al ES H 311 I sang the song called Is Your 3 till 0 acri ce Laid9 The l tar was the 1 could bun our burde a P ace you Pvf iirritten b H53 la them down and be restoredquot a out spaces in the African A J 39 ern home that are shrines m i mulc n South a i As a child I certainly was mfg up of photographs and mementos to our ancestors these shrines 0 lcftchod before these shrines Childhood we would lam qb h od OLI1 family narratives In v I outt e cad from lookin tr walls ofphotograph5 g 1 hese and I As a ltl3hilc1l there was a peculiar way that 1 held my hqnds remem er ookin at im died young I Saw that Shae held fpslofdmy Aunt Hettie Lou who an awesome revelation Th l 39 an S In S1m1larw3 5 This Was es tor of a genealogy of the 3 ti 5 1311165 ChOIT1I i1L1111Camp1tEcl pSrChOh1S on an ran i ll 1I1lZE139 StS beliefs are passed down Aiidlqs Ca 1 ilfaowed how traits c witii extcan Amerj women shrine makin 39 can 8 Off ls 21 s irit al r to African Americans that is bem C1 u anili creatpe practice 16 con nes o patriareh c 0 Makin 1 to be devotion P iestored and to sliow Amalia Crnmm 39 amwm 39 racti 1 or that curing worldsiewand healing P file is a so the same intermediary space that the home alta Omquot P135 as a sacred ractice 39 39 C E whe 39 through this inte1m dhW Space ifll39lEtl1ndy1ClL1 l COI391 1l I391L1I3911cate5 c 1 39 lestial is always present in the exrmm ll ivin39 it here the C3 quot 1 ix es 1 1 home altars at 39 PEOP 3 50 that I E 3 I CCePted 111 many families Aiid Chicano artists ALTARS I21 and cultural workers see the narrative tradition embodied by the home altar and use it in forms like installations and ritual prac tices which build communities bell In her scholarship on Haitian youdou 39Zora Neale Hurston shows how Blackness in the US has always been hybrid a composite a mixture of customs and practices from A frica the Caribbean and the Americas So prior to establishment of the church spirituality is embodied through shrines places in the slaves cave like hut that are private and secret the white mas ter could not even understand how the rocks and pieces of herb mounted constituted an altar a place of power in the life of the powerless The art of enslaved Blacks often fashioned from found objects helped to maintain a sacred space which was fashioned to meet their needs Long before Carljung wrote about the collective unconscious African Americans were seeking concrete ways to be guided and inspired by the spirit world Shrines and altars were tools that helped us from losing our minds in the face of such violence and brutality They were tools that helped us resist even in small ways domination Our traditions certainly do overlap and you can see it in the d Allison Saar quotquothetlaer work of contemporary artists like Bettye an has been informed by consciously or unconsciously their work Mexican and African American iconography and tradition They draw on memories ofyard shrines and altars as well as the cultural hybridity at the heart of the African American experience Amalia 39hy do you think the l39 139gE139 society has been so attracted to these practices l m guessing it is a re ection of the vacuousness and the emptiness of dominant culture people really don t have a place to grieve or mourn Our society has a builtin way of targeting obsolescence of disposing of anything but the new the innovative the young As a result for example people who lose a loved one are seen as abnormal if they actively grieve for longer than two or three months I22 homegiown bell This is a characteristic of a conquest society and of dominant culture which is why so many public monuments in the US are merely representations of conquest triumph or destruc tion instead of something more complex and nuanced One of the lovely aspects of the contemporary revisioning of the mission in San Juan Baptista is the beautiful statue of the Indian There is a statue of a priest closer to the chapel butl was drawn to this sculpture of the Native American Indian This monument offers a very different exposure to public art which more often than not celebrates white cultural imperialism Amalia Judy Baca often refers to that statue as the canon in the park It does stand out Usually only the victor has the story to be told the public memory is held only by those who vanquish others And all people are hungry for some way to publicly express their own sense ofloss So for example after September 11 people simply felt this incredible need to grieve collectively so they came out of their homes and built shrines or ZlS J i39 339fJ39f3f Similar shrines are being created in Louisiana to remember those people who were taken by the storm and the flooding A diorama is a resting place and it s usually a shrine on the side of the road that usually acknowledges an accident and a death or a tragedy and you see them often in rural areas bell When we talk about death there is always that com monality for death is the great equalizer We are a journeying towards death and it is the altar on which we surrender our differ ences and become one DAY OF THE DEAD l391C1 CClill39 bell All over the world People of Cololfqct 1 hd Dy difficult prospects Exploitation 1339ei39lt339 i3l3Pf 5 11ltnO0 min line ica care uieai access to food clean viatei ant I 4 39 meone to die oi of Us are fmmhmi with the Pmcehs Oil hdplllng Q0 n 3lc life exliicec 15 2 393S quotO139CZ39 1l We are Prem tulclii facing dc tlh Du lL ll the vi Orlcl ctiiiilmm 39 3 8 6 3 39C139 F 39 mncies for African dcsccn 1 t E mPmndCSCend d pe plg ri lien yoii lool to Attica P001 3 O u i 39 i 39 ir in iniui39 39 especially deyastaLin I the situation on the continent is 39 1 3 live l i39O1391l forty Counmesi It has bccomt Lkcepumn H 39 5 l ns outli lv1 lquotv39 lClrl Ia quotquotquot39 And as we Vt UquotC1 l39 been in L ii 1 l 1 l N there r hiirricane tsunami E1L391L39 eai39t1LL1 L and Palistan aftei the 539 ii 39 lely natiiral lely natural disastei ilTl 1 so 15 no such thing as a so I13 39 A 39 lot and 3001 ti 1 Jed the vC1 Lb C0 5 3CluenC393539 Being 3 Pawn or will 1 l dc Iitlll ereii in tilt 39 i iess an i 39 for mjlhonb toimld dlsplacemenltli lat i l ition inev quot1rr of T l 1 39 quot I t bit to ta Ll oui ievo L 9 Ve 1thi US Its impossi I 39 39 these realities llvmgr Without talking about fqcmg d l 39 ll quot1lLlCiTitlOl1quotill 39 F 1C 1 39 39 i Thentheie aie those ofus ma eplyb FJW TLmnH 0 g s intot e quot 11quot 01 quot 39Ul1quot1C1393l3lC bl Olmcene V mS39Th1 Ce iclii 39 1 n l tliiiiisaiitls nem1 100000 civilians have been l1llCCl in L39 1 l 3 C 39 more are dead in Afghamst il Amalia In the face of the enormous abuse 3939l 339l 3 C 39i 1 39 irces o ol en of one of tilt SOL d1S 15 and ehplolmuon BOD W SP1 it 39 1 l 391 some cultures is sexistci ii 16vrt 1l1Z 1lIlO1quot i and iesistance that ia I I hi b mm the vi r 39 e ationsi 639 39 39 a COllfCtJ I undcistanding of the i P
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