Oaxacan Sand Painting at ITC

sand painting feat
Samples of Oaxacan sand art, Dia de los Muertos, 2014
© Artists Olegario Hernández Mendoza, Saul Castro, Alejandro Martinez, Francisco Leonel López Villegas ,

Oaxacan Sand Sculpture Comes to ITC
Day of the Dead art form originates with Aztec traditions

UPDATE: The artists will begin at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 31.

SAN ANTONIO – With changing demographics and traditions, the American Southwest has seen the increasing popularity of "El Dia de lost Muertos," the "Day of the Dead" celebration. The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, in collaboration with the UTSA Office of International Programs, is preparing to showcase another aspect of Dia de los Muertos tradition with a display of sand art, Oct. 31 through Nov. 8.

Descendants of the Aztecs, Mixtecs, and Zapotecs have kept alive a tradition of bas relief sand sculptures, colored with bright pigments, which depict El Dia imagery, Catholic saints and deities from the Aztec pantheon. This art form has rarely been demonstrated outside of Mexico.

"Over the past several years, El Dia has truly become integrated into our own culture and tradition," said Angelica Docog, executive director of the museum. "These sand sculptures, which are a major part of the celebration in southern Mexico, have seldom been seen in the U.S. It’s a privilege to present this artwork to the citizens of Texas and anyone who would visit the museum during this special time."

El Dia de los Muertos is a melding of Indigenous and Christian traditions to honor the departed. The Mexican observance is a celebration of life. Families prepare altars in their homes, placing objects and foods which call to mind the departed. Cemeteries often become the sites of festivals and gatherings. Sand art is a component of cemetery decorations, particularly in Oaxaca.

"The death of loved ones is a common life experience for all cultures," said Docog. "While the ways in which we honor the departed may differ by culture, there is a commonality in the respect given to the dead."

Sculpting at the Institute of Texan Cultures begins at 10 a.m., Oct. 31, and continues until completed. The piece will remain in place through Nov. 8, the museum’s Free Second Sunday.

The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday.  Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit TexanCultures.com.





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