Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Death Month


Sugar Skulls

In certain parts of Mexico, the indigenous people have celebrated El Día de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead during late October and early November. This wonderful festival (lasting several days) celebrates the lives of deceased loved ones. The people believed that during this special time of year, the spirits of the loved ones came back to visit. Sugar skulls are made and painted in bright colors. Little handmade skeletons "calacas" are created, dressed in the deceased persons' favorite clothing and depicted enjoying their favorite activities. Tombstones are decorated with marigolds. When Mexico was "conquered" by the Spaniards, the people had no choice but to convert to Catholicism. The Mexican people incorporated their traditions into the Catholic All Souls Day.

I remember years ago suggesting to my daughter's elementary school PTO that we should incorporate some of these festivities into their fall festival. What fun it would be! (This was after a certain fundamentalism group outlawed Halloween). Needless to say that was immediately shot down and I was accused of Satanism.

October to me has become death month. I spent last weekend in Virginia following the death of my brother-in-law. Dr. Joe turned 60 on September 11th. One year ago we traveled to Virginia to "celebrate the life" of my husband's best friend. Michael was 51. My mother's birthday would have been October 20th. All three of them died prematurely due to different types of cancer. I'm not quite up to celebrating in the way of our Mexican friends.

I haven't felt much like posting. I felt the same way last year after Michael's death. Mom's birthday in the middle of this contributes to the down feeling. My students will be making colorful skulls in art class. Perhaps if I post the name of the project in Spanish I will not get flak.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Preserved Farmland Trust Painting

Here is the painting I've been working on for the Preserved Farmland Trust of York County, Pennsylvania. Thirty local artists were invited to participate. Each artist was assigned a preserved farm.

I was assigned to the 400 acre Snyder family farm in nearby Mount Wolf. I was given one day in July to sketch and photograph and gather a general impression of the land. The owner agreed to meet me at 6:00 p.m. one evening. I drove around with my sketchbook and camera, wishing that I had time to paint on location.

The cause is worthy. The owners of beautiful farmland agree to preserve their land in order to maintain some of the rural character of our county for future generations. The land directly across the road from this farm was turned into a typical sprawling suburban subdivision. I'm sure it was somewhat profitable for the owners, but much more so for the developers. Just beyond the ridge of hills there lies shopping centers, car dealerships, and traffic. The tower of he trash incinerator is visible, but not prominent on the horizon.

I am honored by the invitation to participate in this exhibit. There are some well known artists participating that I consider way above my league!