New design commissioned by the California Institute of Integral Studies. It was really important to me to center a danzante in the composition because I feel that Dia de los Muertos is about a world view that understands a duality between life and death. These understandings are rooted in indigenous cosmologies and worldviews from peoples across the Americas. I didn’t want the image to flatten, what started as, over a month long ceremony about remembering the ancestors to a kitchy image of a skull out of context or some sexualized woman with her face half painted as a skull and half painted with make up that has no connection to traditional practices or content that helps the viewer understand the importance of the day. I shot a photo of Lazaro Arvizu (central figure here), a danzante from Xipe Totec, who used to come to my community college to teach the third and fourth graders, our student organization brought in from local schools, about the traditions of Dia de los Muertos. This during was the last year I helped organize the event, in 2001, before I moved to the Bay. Mark you calendar for CIIS’ event.

– Melanie