Colors, smells, monumental figures and traditional Oaxacan rugs were displayed in the center of the capital of Oaxaca to adorn the celebration of Day of the Dead and confirm what the world knows: in Mexico Death, with a capital M, is treated with honey, offerings are placed with food, drink, candles and even an artistic tribute is paid to him.
With wet earth, lime and diamond, groups and art students from Oaxaca placed in the Plaza de la Danza, on the outskirts of the Temple of Solitude, monumental rugs sculpted with wet sand, diamond, lime and pigments, with which they represented natural elements, representative figures of the worldview of regional pre-Hispanic cultures and characters from national history such as Frida Kahlo.
The square was divided into four spaces of 12 by 12 meters for the students of the Faculty of Plastic and Visual Arts of the Benito Juárez Autonomous University of Oaxaca ?UABJO? and three artistic groups: La Soledad de Villa de Zaachila, Encuentro Cultural and the residents of Macuilxóchitl.
Walking among the natural elements, water, fire, earth and air, was the main idea developed by the UABJO students on the mat that they divided into five: one for each of the elements and a central mat that represents the eternal, dialectical cycle between life and death, represented by a two-headed serpent surrounding the flower of life.
The young people discussed, shared ideas, debated what was best and in the end they decided to perform the performances as a demonstration that artistic work, even if it is done with the hands, requires intellectual effort: "Will he take me?" prays the fire mat where a Devil emerges from the flames, quite muscular, holding a skull and with a playful face.
For the earth, a woman, giver of life, who seems to grow from among the roots and, at the same time, extend towards the sky through the branches of a tree. The water was represented by the Mixtec god Dzahui surrounded by the sea. And the wind was printed on the ground with a figure of three children holding three balloons: a skeleton, a bat and a hummingbird, one of the representative images of the air.
What could be the task of artists but to use their skills like a hammer to shape reality, as Bertolt Brecht would say. Thus, the youngsters overcame difficulties with ingenuity and hard work: after two days of working from sunup to sundown, on the water mat the students decided to mix the blue pigment with white to change the tones of the water and simulate sea foam. before the problem of not having enough color.
“Between three and four people worked over the two days for each mat. In my case, I am not so satisfied because a blue pigment did not reach us, but we were able to mix it with white, it is that in fact we simulated foam with the white pigment and we were able to solve it”, Alexa López, from the third semester C, explained self-critically.
On the other hand, Uriel Rojas, from the same class, was satisfied with his work and also explained to Peninsula 360 Press the creative process, which included marmots, the monumental figures that always accompany the festivities in Oaxaca.
«In my team we began to think about the ideas wanting to make some type of marmots, but we wanted something that carried the air element so we opted for the balloons and we wanted to keep the Oaxacan character that the marmots would be and yes, that idea is more or less maintained but we wanted to represent it with the balloons but that kept the essence of the groundhog, that's why the three people below holding the balloons, "explained the young man.
With strong regional roots, the discussion by Alexa's team followed similar paths: the representation of a Mixtec god of water, Dzahui, prevailed over the proposal of the representation of Tláloc, more characteristic of the Valley of Mexico.
Other rugs made were the “Elementales” one, made by the Encuentro cultural collective, with two paths that represent day and night and the four cardinal points; the rug "Offerings to death, to life and not so alive", made by residents of Macuilxóchitl with a giant skull and "Frida dances with death", as a call to live with death, without fear and with joy because before death, we are all equal.
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