In recorded presentations by two renowned Mexican families, the museum showcases two traditions central to Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos): the art of making figures from sugar and papier-mâché. These two presentations will take place in Spanish. Closed captioning in Spanish and English will be available.
“The Sweet Story of Alfeñique” follows matriarch Margarita Mondragón as she creates skulls and animals, artworks made of sugar (alfeñique). The Mondragon family is from Toluca, the heart of sugar-making activities in Mexico, and her family has been making hand-decorated sugar skulls for more than 150 years.
“The Story of Cartonería Tradicional” (The Story of Papier-mâché) follows artisans Ana Miriam Castañeda Montes de Oca and Martín Ramírez as they make compelling figures known as calaveras (laughing skeletons), figures that humorously and poetically continue with their work in the afterlife. The art form dates to at least to the 17th century and were used to adorn religious spaces and represent various historical figures in processions.
“Day of the Dead: The Basics” with Cynthia Vidaurri, museum research and scholarship.
Join Cynthia as she answers and illustrates the basic questions about Day of the Dead, including “What is Día de los Muertos”? How is it different from Halloween? And what is an ofrenda and what do the beautiful decorations mean? Cynthia will illustrate the presentation with images collected over her years of research and selected images from previous Day of the Dead programs at the museum.
“How to Make Paper Marigolds” with Evelyn Orantes (Quiche Maya) and Joaquin Newman (Yaqui/Mexica). Flowers play an important role in many celebrations, from births to funerals they help us express our feelings towards people we care about. For Day of the Dead, the colorful petals of zempasuchil (marigold flowers) are used. Evelyn Orantes and Joaquin Newman will demonstrate how to create paper marigolds.
This event will be on demand starting on October 28th at 12:01am ET and will remain on demand until November 30th at 11:59pm ET.
Federal support for this program is provided by the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.