A group of visual artists with developmental disabilities are celebrating Dia de los Muertos with an exhibition about their own interpretation of this traditionally Mexican holiday.
Using the Calacas (Spanish word for skeletons) as their main inspiration, these painters, drawers and sculptors from Creativity Explored, have spent over a year studying and understanding the traditions, dealing with their own loss experiences, and translating their feelings into art.
With featured artworks that were both colorful and energetic, neither fear, sadness or tears were displa
yed on the walls of the visual art center. Victor Cartagena, the exhibition’s curator, explained that not everyone knows what Day of the Dead means exactly. “Non-latinos usually get confused about this date.”
“Some link it with Halloween or any kind of scary or morbid thing. It’s a celebration of death as a rebirth, with love and joy,” Cartagena said.
For Amy Taub, director of Creativity Explored, the diverse cultural backgrounds among the artists in this exhibition expose different concepts of death and honor. She explained that the idea behind this project was enlightening this group to converge on the same spirit of celebration.
“We spent more than a year educating our artists about something they didn’t have a very strong concept of: El Dia de los Muertos. From that, they could express their ideas and show us something new,” Taub said.
One of the most iconic artists in the show, Kevin Roach, said that he feels his loved ones very alive on his paintings. Roach’s piece entited “Goddess of the Mission”, or what he refers to as “My princess”, an acrylic and gold leaf on canvas portrait of his mom, who died when he was still a child, is a tremendous and extremely vivid “Calaca”.
Carrying titles such as Eskeletito de Feliz , Muertitos de Azucar by Selena Perez, and El Muerto Feliz by Nubia Ortega—-many other pieces featured in the exhibition also express happiness and love.
Victor, a Salvadorian artist who has been in the Bay Area for 27 years, said that a new cultural dimension of Dia de los Muertos stemming from different immigrant influences makes this San Francisco celebration a unique experience.
The exhibition is part of the 30th anniversary celebration of Creativity Explored and will be open to the public at 3245 16th St. through Nov. 24 All pieces of art are for sale.