The Maude Kerns Art Center celebrates the 29th annual Día de los Muertos Exhibit with artwork, community altars, and a special Day of the Dead Gift Shop. The exhibit opens on Friday, October 14 and is on display through Friday, November 4.
The Maude Kerns Art Center presents a Día de los Muertos Fiesta Reception on Friday, October 28, from 5 – 8 pm, in conjunction with the Art Center’s 29th annual Día de los Muertos Exhibit. The Fiesta features special entertainment by Colibri Ballet Folklórico and El Taller de Son Jarocho, as well as refreshments and family art activities.
Colibri Ballet Folklórico, a community dance group, performs traditional dances at 6 pm. For the young performers in Colibri, dance is more than artistic expression. It is a way to build self-confidence and to reconnect and express their roots through rhythm and movement.
El Taller de Son Jarocho, a local music collective, performs at 6:45 pm. The group is dedicated to spreading the message of community through the music, song, and dance of southern Veracruz, Mexico. “Son Jarocho” refers to the distinct style of music and dance particular to the region. El Taller de Son Jarocho explores the Spanish, African, and indigenous roots of this music.
Nineteen artists from three states and Mexico exhibit oil and acrylic paintings, watercolors, textiles, photographs, welded metal, prints, and mixed media work. Suzanne Algara of Buganvilla Imports features authentic crafts created by Mexican artists in her Day of the Dead Gift Shop, which includes Catrina figures, Day of the Dead dogs, nichos (decorative religious altars), milagros (charms), an array of skulls, and more.
Eugene artist Susan Jerde has been a frequent exhibitor in the Art Center’s Día de los Muertos Exhibit. This year’s delicate watercolor, titled Arbor, portrays a skeleton couple who have spent a lifetime together. They are seated beneath a flowering arbor surrounded by various animal companions. Jerde says of her piece: “We will all pass on to the other side but the beauty we create can continue to lift spirits and nourish the living planet.”
Petaluma, California artist Karen Purdy exhibits Deadpan Quartet, a group of four linocuts on paper, each in a hand-painted frame. Purdy draws on the playful, light-hearted aspects of the holiday in her prints. She says of her work: “My pieces reflect my understanding of ‘living with dying’ and the absurd humor I’ve discovered as a result…. I believe laughter is better than sorrow, or anger and irony is so much better than cynicism.”
Rockville, Maryland artist Francis Schultz-DePalo displays an oil on panel painting titled Día de los Muertos, Hildalgo. Schultz-DePalo was visiting relatives in Mexico during the time of the holiday when he witnessed an intimate scene of a mother and child in a cemetery. They were cleaning and preparing a grave site, possibly for the night vigil, one of the traditional Day of the Dead activities. Touched by what he saw, he depicted “this scene of devotion amidst all the crowded stones and trees of the cemetery.”
In addition to artwork, the Día de los Muertos Exhibit includes seven altars created by individuals and community groups. The practice of creating altars is an essential part of the Día de los Muertos holiday. The altars are intended to please the spirits of the dead and remind the living of the ephemeral quality of life. Each year the Center’s Duchess Committee presents an altar in honor of the Art Center’s namesake, Maude I. Kerns.