When my daughter told me her class was going on a field trip to the Lexington Cemetery, I wasn't surprised. It is historic, majestic, with lovely seasonal displays of color and flower. The date did stop me though. October 14, the birthday of my dear friend Sally (and my kids' godmother), who passed away in August of '07.
My daughter has a history of 'seeing angels,' and I've never questioned her, but I've been envious. Children are so open that they don't filter out the many wonders of the universe that we often walk by without noticing.
I have been thinking a great deal about my Aunt who died in June, the long talks we had when I was directionless in my early 20s, and later when I had relationship 'issues.' She was always there for me and in many ways she still is. I can feel her presence, as I can Sally's; they both left such wonderful, honorable legacies, women who will long be remembered as giving, compassionate, understanding, powerful...
I have wanted to make an ofrenda for the past few years, during the Dia de los Muertos festival, which has blossomed in Lexington, in part thanks to my daughter's ballet company, whose founder is from Mexico. Adalhi choreographed an entire ballet based on the day set aside to celebrate life by honoring death.
Ofrendas, or alters, are usually 3-dimensional, made in boxes or on stands but I wanted to work flat. I used a large, chipboard tag, Day of the Dead bead/charms I found at Stampington that are really cool, (made by Connie at Altered Route), a packing tape transfer and an illustration my husband did last year for the ballet. The photo I used for the packing tape transfer doesn't show up in the scan - it's the same one I used for one of the charms. Taken 50 or more years ago, my aunt was looking out over water and the image fills me with curiosity, a longing to know what she saw in the distant landscape. (click on the photos for a larger view)
While it isn't as grand as many of the larger pieces artists make, it is far more practical; I can enjoy it all year long. And it sparked a lot of ideas about ways my husband - a fine artist and illustrator - can collaborate. Celebrate. Life.