IN PICTURES: Artists Honor Their Predecessors in Día de los Muertos Exhibition at MOLAA

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Silvya Luna Manquiero’s raices y ramas (my roots and branches)Photos by Asia Morris.

Art and altars by over 30 Southern California artists make up the juried Día de los Muertos Exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA). Artists created original altars and submitted work made of various media, including ceramics, collage, painting, sculpture and photography revolving around the passing on of myths, legends, historical events, and everyday experiences. Altars were dedicated to ancestors, communities and subcultures, highlighting traditionally ignored or hidden stories.

For example, in Silvya Luna Manquiero’s raices y ramas (my roots and branches) figures made of layered paper represent a different ‘book’ in the story of the artist’s family legacy, including representations of a general who fought in the Battle of Puebla, celebrated every Cinco de Mayo, a female sheepherder who lived in Chavez Ravine, now the site of Dodger Stadium, and a grandmother who passed down the family’s recipes. A tree, whose roots and branches are made of altered dictionary pages, reaches upward toward the ceiling.

In Foto Chavez by Erica Figueroa, the artist honors her late uncle, Mexican photographer Victor Chavez Pulido. Figueroa inherited her uncle’s darkroom, equipment and much of his work chronicling the culture of his hometown, Ixtlán del Río, a southern municipality of the Mexican state of Nayarit. Although some of Chavez Pulido’s prints are archived in the Photo Library of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Nayarit, his work isn’t recognized outside of the area. Figueroa’s work seeks to give her uncle’s photography a wider audience.

The 34 artists that participated are as follows: Juan Rojas Aguilar, Zoe Aparicio, Norax Ayala, Monica Balmelli, Dawn Burns, Arthur Carrillo, Ana Cervantes, Alexandra Chiara, Pablo Damas, Alejandra Fernández, Erica Figueroa, E.E. Jacks, Simonette David Jackson, Kristen Johannesen, John Koller, George Labrada, Heriberto Luna, Chris Lowail, Emily Maddigan, Roy Martínez, Silvya Manquero, Brenda Martínez, Karina Monroy, Marylucille Nuñez, Barbara Rivera, Alejandra Rivero, Sarahe Roman, Saúl Ruiz, Catherine Scott, Jesús E. Silva, Michelle Rivera Spromberg, Sandra Tovar, José Vargas and Virginia Vilchis.

You can check out the exhibition, on view in the Education Gallery, through November 19.


MOLAA is located at 628 Alamitos Avenue.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.