CMS students show off folk art talent in Day of Dead
Art and Spanish language students at Cortez Middle school showed off their talent in a Day of the Dead art contest held Nov. 1 at El Burro Pancho, a Mexican restaurant in Cortez.
In cooperation with restaurant owners Yasmine and Gustavo Casillas, students learned about the Day of the Dead tradition in Mexico and created folk art on the topic.
“It was really hard to choose. We had a lot of great entries,” said Yasmine on Saturday.
Twenty five students from Carol Andersen’s Spanish class, and Amelia Joe-Chanaller’s art class, created various pieces, including shadow (alter) boxes, masks, and drawings.
“We wanted to do something for the community and share a unique aspect of our Mexican culture,” Gustavo said. “It is our first try, and it went really well.”
Not to be confused with Halloween, Day of the Dead is a distinct Mexico festival that takes place from Nov. 1-Nov. 2.
During the lively festival participants set up elaborate alters of loved ones who have passed on, leaving gifts, food, and their favorite beverages. Graves are whitewashed, picnics are held in graveyards, and costumes are worn in musical parades depicting loved ones who have died.
“It is a way to honor the dead, to remember them in a positive way by celebrating their lives,” Gustavo said.
In the first year of the contest, Eric Williams took home first place, winning a $20 gift certificate. His creative shadow box shows a funeral scene with detailed little people made out of what looks like toothpicks.
“He put a lot of work into it. Each person is wearing a different outfit,” Yasmine said.
Other entries included vibrant masks, festive shadow boxes, yarn paintings, and a decorated skull of a bull. They are being displayed at El Burro Pancho, located at 1430 E. Main St., next to McDonalds, and also at Cortez Middle School.
“The kids were really excited about the project,” said CMS Spanish teacher Carol Andersen. “It was a really authentic cultural experience for them to learn all about. And they were free to create whatever they wanted, so it did not have to be traditional.”