By Ana Laura Juarez
This curation is unique to me because I am not only curating my first art exhibit, I am curating a cultural celebration. I am honored to be working with Deborah Ramos, founder of Tlalnepantla Arts, the individual who has reminded me every step of the way that this show is for the Latinx community, and by the Latinx community. Day of the Dead is an indigenous Mexican tradition that has survived colonization and adapted to both catholic and secular groups. By helping to make this show a reality, I am part of a larger effort to keep Day of the Dead in our hands. This exhibit is extremely important, as the Latinx community continues to be attacked in the media, in our homes, and in our minds.
I have never celebrated Day of the Dead in my home or with the community. At times I have felt like an imposter. I have the privilege of putting a show together that I don’t deserve to be doing. Those are my insecurities creeping up. As a Mexican American, I struggle with owning parts of my cultural identity. I haven’t had the opportunity – for example- to be a part of a procession to the graves of my family on Day of the Dead. I don’t know where those graves lie in the first place. That is why this art exhibit, and its opening reception is extremely important. My goal is to give Latinxs a sense of community, regardless of the fact that we don’t all practice the same ancestral remembrance.
While curating the exhibit, I’ve worked with Deborah Ramos to make sure that we are indeed creating something that is accessible, respectful of the tradition, and powerful. In the United States, Latinxs in my generation and on are learning about Day of the Dead through YouTube face-painting tutorials and Halloween parties with no context of its cultural significance. In many ways, this tradition is under attack. As a person who has lived, and breathed Day of the Dead for many years now, Deborah let me know early on in our collaboration – “All the while we are organizing and promoting Day of the Dead, we will also need to protect it.”
In this show we are present in honoring our ancestors. We are present in honoring the lives taken away to silence individuals. We are present to honor lives that were killed by police brutality. We are present in honoring the duality of life and death! All are welcome to the show and I can’t wait to see everyone!! Save the date! The opening reception is on the 28th of September and will be beautiful!