Originating thousands of years ago among the Aztec, Toltec and other Nahua people, Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a joyful celebration of life and death. During the first two days of November, participants create ofrendas - altars in private homes of cemeteries featuring offerings, food, family photographs, and candles to invite the souls of the dead back to the material world. Through coinciding with "spooky season" in the US, the tradition differs vastly from Halloween in its life-affirming tone and its rejection of death as a finality.
Those who want to connect with he spirit of Día de los Muertos in New York City can now visit Rockefeller Center where a presentation of dazzling Mexican folk art will be o view starting today, October 22, through November 2. Works by Atelier Jacobo and María Angeles in Oaxaca and by Menchaca Studio, a Mexico City - based organization specializing in Huichol art and crafts, will lure city dwellers both living and incorporeal.
In the Manhattan landmark's Center Plaza, Angeles Atelier presents two towering alebrijes, vibrantly- colored sculptures of animals and mythical creatures meant to serve as spiritual guides: an 11 foot dragon and a 13.5 foot feathered jaguar, both rendered in fiberglass. The first alebrijes were created in the early 1930s by Pedro Linares, an Indigenous Mexican artist, using paper mâché; in the southern state of Oaxaca, artists have continued the tradition in the medium of carved and painted wood.
The founders of Angeles Atelier, María and Jacobo, attended an unveiling ceremony today along with son and principal designer Ricardo Angeles. In an interview with Hyperallergic, the artist described his alebrijes as "guardians" for the nation's immigrants.