Mexico began celebrating its annual holiday, “Dia de los Muertos,” also known as Day of the Dead Oct. 31. California Baptist University’s advanced art class, taught by Kristi Lippire, assistant professor of visual art, created some of the art displayed amid the streets.
People on the streets of Mexico gathered for two days to see the various art pieces strewn atop of some chainlink fences, light posts and stucco walls.
While Lippire has sent her own work for the past seven years, this is the first year she has taken her students’ work with her to Mexico.
Jessica R. Ford, senior visual art major, was one of five students whose work was taken by Lippire to Guanajuato, Mexico.
With a holiday so focused on a reconnection with the dead and spirits, Ford wanted to emphasize the truth of Jesus in her work.
“I drew Jesus the moment after he rose and walks out of his grave,” Ford said. “He is looking out to the gloomy graveyard where the ghosts of these people’s ancestors are lingering.”
Lippire said the goal was to engage students with the holiday in hopes that her students would embrace the culture and the holiday that is cherished by the masses in Mexican culture.
“They had to make work for exhibition in a foreign country,” Lippire said. “Be respectful of the culture while not copying it. This is a religious holiday in Mexico, so this is an opportunity for them to make a piece of religious art for a foreign audience.”
Understanding the concept came easy to Ford because of her fascination with connecting international countries to Jesus through her art work. As a result of this project, she understood the importance of respect.
“I think it was important because we all have a different point of view,” Ford said. “We didn’t grow up celebrating the Dia de los Muertos, so the perspective we have on it is different. As college students, we had the opportunity to respectfully make statements about their traditions.”
According to Lippire, hundreds of art pieces lined the streets as tourists and locals traveled through the city to see what was displayed. She said both locals and tourists stopped to take pictures with some of the works.
Lippire said that because the whereabouts of the students’ art was unknown, locating her students art at the exhibits proved tricky.
“I had dropped off the work early in the morning with the other artists,” Lippire said. “After attaching them to recycled boards, I then walked around the city of Guanajuato to try to find all five students’ works plus my own. It was a fun scavenger hunt through the city.”
The art’s journey to Mexico created a positive experience for the students as those in the class commented on the unique experience it provided them.
For Ford, it was not until she saw pictures of her artwork in Mexico that she really acquired an appreciation for the opportunity.
Lippire said that locals interacted with the art and even posed for pictures with it, providing that her students were not the only ones inspired by it.