Saturday, January 11, 2014

Megaofrenda at the UNAM

Ok, continuing the trend of catching up on posts...

Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) combines prehispanic beliefs and traditions with Catholicism's All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. It is believed that the souls' of those departed are allowed to return and visit with the family. November 1st is All Saints' Day for children who have passed away and November 2 is Día de Muertos/ Day of the Dead or All Souls' Day for adults who have passed away. It is believed that on these days, the souls are allowed back to Earth to visit with the family. Altars or offerings are set up in homes, churches, schools, etc. They typically include a photo of the person the altar/offering is for (so that the souls can recognize themselves and know where to go), candles and orange marigolds (which are/represent light so that the soul can find its way), flowers or something a purple-ish color (that represents mourning), and favorites foods and drinks of the person. 

Altar in Maltrata, 2012
The altar or offering maybe be for a family member within a home or for public figures in public places (here for my experience spending Día de Muertos in Maltrata). 

Since 1997, the UNAM has celebrated Día de Muertos with a Day of the Dead Festival.This year's megaofrenda was in honor of artist Remedios Varo Uranga. I wasn't familiar with her or her work previously, so I'll let Wikipedia help me out: 

"Remedios Varo Uranga (December 16, 1908 – October 8, 1963) was a Spanish-Mexican, para-surrealist painter and anarchist. She was born María de los Remedios Alicia Rodriga Varo y Uranga in Anglès, a small town in the province of Girona, Spain in 1908.  [...] During the Spanish Civil War she fled to Paris where she was greatly influenced by the surrealist movement. [...] Due to her Republican ties, her 1937 move to Paris with Péret ensured that she would never be able to return to Franco's Spain. She was forced into exile from Paris during the German occupation of France and moved to Mexico City at the end of 1941. She initially considered Mexico a temporary haven, but would remain in Mexico for the rest of her life. At Mexico, she met native artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, but her strongest ties were to other exiles and expatriates, notably the English painter Leonora Carrington and the French pilot and adventurer, Jean Nicolle. [...]  After 1949 Varo developed her mature style, which remains beautifully enigmatic and instantly recognizable. She often worked in oil on masonite panels she prepared herself. Although her colors have the blended resonance of the oil medium, her brushwork often involved many fine strokes of paint laid closely together—a technique more reminiscent of egg tempera. She died at the height of her career from a heart attack in Mexico City in 1963. Her work continues to achieve successful retrospectives at major sites in Mexico and the United States." 

Here are some photos from UNAM's 2013 megaofrenda:

with friends from the Master's program
with Edson

UNAM' Central Library lit up at night

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