Day of the Dead
As a little girl, I attended dozens of funerals for people I didn’t know. My parents were in two church choirs that were in high demand all over Central New Mexico. At funerals, usually two things happen, everyone talks about the deceased in a very positive way and there is lots of crying and sadness. I found this very confusing for a few reasons. One, I had not lost anyone close to me. Two, it made me happy to hear about how great the lives of the deceased were. Lastly, I believed that there was life after death and we would get to see our loved ones again. I couldn’t understand their sorrow.
Fast forward a couple decades to the loss of my grandmother and I finally understood the sorrow of losing a close loved one. Around the same time, through my face painting, I came to learn about Day of the Dead. Also known as Dia de los Muertos, this holiday is celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican ancestry in other areas of the world including the United States. Family and friends gather to pray for and remember lost loved ones and to pray for their spiritual journey. Every fall the South Valley in Albuquerque, NM hosts a parade to honor the dead. People dress up in beautiful costumes and paint their faces to look like the dead. These face painting are referred to as Sugar Skulls or Calveras. They carry altars or ofrendas. And every year, we can remember them and pray for them as part of this beautiful Mexican tradition that is now celebrated all over the world.
Many of my clients will talk about their past loved ones that they are honoring while I paint their faces. Some think that sugar skulls are a cool costume so I take the opportunity to educate them about Dia de los Muertos. Either way, I hope to honor this beautiful tradition through my face painting.
Below are some of the sugar skulls or calaveras that I have painted throughout the years.