Meet Viva los Muertos taking part at 2020’s Mexican Christmas Market.
I grew up in El Paso, Texas which is the border town to Jaurez, Mexico but now reside in Bristol, England. My childhood was immersed in Catholic and Mexican culture which has influenced my art.
I like to experiment with many types of mediums and most of my art is created from up-cycled resources. I give old, bland frames a new lease of life then turn them into boxes with an antique gilded style (my unique versions of nichos). I hand cast all the skulls with plaster and hand sculpt all the clay for the large skull and heart pieces as well as carve all crosses myself. All of my pieces of art are unique and original. I regularly visit my family back in Texas and make trips to Mexico to find inspiration and trinkets (Milagros, etc.) to add to my creations. . I am happy to take commissions for art and can reproduce many designs though they will always be unique to some degree.
I also share my love for sewing by creating cushions, lampshades, face coverings and wall banners with fabric direct from Texas and Mexico or Mexican inspired styles in the UK.
I am an ex teacher and use my teaching skills to run workshops for Dia de los Muertos in many schools and organizations. These workshops have often catered to over 200 pupils, where I have often made 200 sugar skulls to decorate and it is a great feeling to share my knowledge of Mexican culture in British schools and public spaces. I also create an ofrenda (altar) at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol with a small team of women every year for Dia de Los Muertos as way of educating the public about this beautiful celebration and to offer the public an opportunity to celebrate it as well with photos and offerings for their loved ones. Due to Covid 19 restrictions this year, I also created a digital ofrenda on my website for those who could not leave their homes, to be able to contribute photos digitally. We were are so proud to announce that we have just won 3rd prize in the National Altar competition 2020 by the Mexican Embassy.
I plan to spend 2021 experimenting with more mediums and creating more art. I am hoping that we will soon have a cure for Covid 19 so that I can start planning workshops in schools and attending markets again. I miss being able to interact with people and the chance to explain in person, the meaning of all my creations. I also plan, of course, to build the Ofrenda in the cemetery again this year as it is my most treasured time of the year, being able to spend a few days celebrating my brother, father and best friend. I love that I grew up with both Mexican and American heritage and am so proud to say that I am from El Paso, Texas!
Growing up in a border town such as El Paso/Juarez, you tend to celebrate both the American and Mexican traditions. We would join many families in our neighbourhood for the Posadas each night and eat many tamales. Though they are all fond memories, my most favourite tradition was driving around the city to view the hundreds of homes lit up with luminarias all over the city on Christmas eve. The glowing brown paper sacks filled with sand and tealights would adorn all of the churches and pathways of homes all over the city. Especially in the area with the historic mission trail. Our Lady of Guadalupe, in my old school playground would be decorated with hundreds of candles and luminarias. It was a magical time in life and that scene has made me love Our Lady of Guadalupe ever since.
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