Upcoming Exhibitions

Día de los Muertos

Main Gallery

September 9, 2021

The celebration of El Día de los Muertos is a joyful occasion of remembrance, involving feasts and festivities through which death is recognized as a part of the natural process of living. Contemporary celebrations of this holiday bear both ancient traditions and a modern flair and have become a rich part of Tucson’s cultural heritage. This exhibition celebrates the creative ways artists honor and enliven this deeply meaningful holiday through artistic expressions of personal and universal significance.

Artists from the region are invited to submit up to three, 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional works in any media for consideration. Submitted artwork must creatively explore the essence and emotion of this traditional Mexican holiday. The imagery, symbols, and motifs are endless: memorials and remembrances, altars and shrines, paper banners (papel picado), flowers, candles, saints, graveside vigils, pageantry, sugar skulls, skeletons…

Arizona artist Manuel Fonts will be joining Tohono Chul’s curatorial team as co-curator for our 2021 Día de los Muertos exhibition. Manuel Fontes studied fine art photography at Phoenix College and earned his B.A. and M.A. in Ecological Anthropology from Arizona State University. He grew up in Southern Arizona celebrating the traditional Mexican Holiday, Día de los Muertos, with his family every year. The Sonoran Desert has always been his home. As an Environmental Scientist, the natural sequence of the Sonoran Desert fascinates him. As an artist, has been exhibited his work in eleven exhibitions at Tohono Chul since 2015. He tries to capture the lives of rural people and their connection to the land. His work primarily focuses on the lifeways and folklore of the Hispanic Southwest.

To view Call for Entries click here

50% of all sales from the Día de los Muertos exhibition help fund programs at TOHONO CHUL

Manuel Fontes | Corazón | digital photographic print  | 2017 DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS exhibition

“Growing up in Southern Arizona my family celebrated Día de Los Muertos every year as part of a traditional Mexican holiday honoring departed family members. This Mexican holiday has its roots deep in the history of Mexico reaching back to the original peoples of the Americas including the Aztec and Maya. Vital to this celebration is food. Food plays a central role in celebrating Día de Los Muertos because it is believed that on Día de Los Muertos, the dead are allowed once again to return to the land of the living to enjoy the foods they once loved during their mortal existence.  When my family celebrated Día de Los Muertos, my home was filled with breads, colorful fruits and a variety of vegetables. The air was filled with the savory aroma of traditional Mexican cuisine. It is believed that these aromas have the ability to draw the dead back to their home. My work celebrates Día de Los Muertos by illustrating the complex interplay of Christian iconography and indigenous symbols with traditional foodstuff commonly used to celebrate the holiday.

Throughout the Southwest, La Virgen de Guadalupe (The Virgin of Guadalupe) is the most recognizable Mexican religious symbol. Tamales are a favorite food used to celebrate Día de Los Muertos. But two favorites are the green corn and sweet tamales. In this image, I take the iconic image of La Virgen de Guadalupe and represent her by using the main ingredients of these two tamales (a green chile and cinnamon stick for sweet tamales) surrounded by the corn husks used to wrap each one. In Mexico, La Virgen de Guadalupe is considered the mother of all Mexicans, so what better symbol to represent the Mexican mothers who always made these tamales for friends and family during Día de Los Muertos.”  


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