Ofrendas ✿ Stories from Mexico

Garden of Stories

Every 1 November, spend some time at the ofrendas, to welcome back the dead and enjoy the vibrancy of Mexican culture.

Dias de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated mainly by the Mexican population, where they reunite with the souls of their loved ones. Unlike other celebrations of those who have passed, this holiday takes on a joyous and celebratory respect for the dead. Families normally follow the tradition of setting out their favourite food and drinks either on the grave or ofrendas, makeshift altars created at home. Its history stems from the Nahuas, an Indigenous group in Mexico, who share a cyclical view of life and death. They often performed historic rituals where they provided their deceased with supplies and tools to aid their journey into Chicunamictlán, the Land of the Dead. Their souls return to our world on the 1st and 2nd of November every year.

The creative spark: Mexican heritage by hand today - Raquel Bessudo is drawn to the tapestry by Esteban Leñero, “The air that helps the spark”, that honours the magnificent churches of Michoacán.
Tonantsintlalli: Our Mother Earth - Desiree Ibinarriaga and David Marcelino Cayetano bring people together through their Nahuatl culture.
Chroma: A mechanical translation of Nahuatl textiles - Ismael Rodríguez describes a project inspired by a sixteenth-century manuscript to reproduce a Nahuatl textile and appreciate the mistakes along the way.
Silk from San Pedro Cajonos: Artisans weaving new connections through the web - Raquel Bessudo tracks down a community of silk spinners weavers in Oaxaca, demonstrating the enterprise of their craft collectives.
Ofrendas ✿ Stories from Mexico - Every 1 November, spend some time at the ofrendas, to welcome back the dead and enjoy the vibrancy of Mexican culture.
The Red Dress in Chiapas - Kirstie Macleod shares a particular moment in the journey of the Red Dress, which was embroidered and then proudly worn by women in southern Mexico.
Tecuil Alessia: Preserving the heart of the prehispanic kitchen - Raquel Bessudo heralds a new design for the traditional stove which promises a healthy future for traditional Mexican life
A perfect red: The tale of a dye - An artist's quest for the origin of red takes Eric Mindling to the legendary Oaxaca village of Teotitlan del Valle.
Living with dragons - While the mythical creature of the dragon is synonymous with China, its presence can be found across the Indo-Pacific. In this online exhibition, we feature artists both inside and outside China who are inspired by the dragon.
Marigold ✿ Compendium Two now released - Our Marigold issue was launched at La Calera. You can now purchase a hard copy version of Garland 2.
What we can learn from Zapotec culture - Garland in Oaxaca was a chance for us to learn more about the Zapotec values that underlined their mesmerising crafts, and particularly its place in the world today.
Manuela López-Mateos ✿ Como es tu enagua y tu huipil? - One of Garland's Zapotec community reflects on the linguistic diversity of Oaxaca, and how the language of the Ikoots is reflected in the textiles they wear. (See English translation below)
Natalia Toledo ✿ My skin bursts with the flowers etched upon my dress - Natalia Toledo is one of the strong female Zapotec voices that can be heard from Oaxaca. She gives voice to a consciousness that inhabits the "craft classic" of the huipil.
Ollas de barro y mezcal - El padre de Lázaro Monjaraz caminaría dos días a pie desde el remoto pueblo de Yutanduchi de Guerrero, sobre áridas colinas cargadas de palmeras, a través de ríos, picos arbóreos de casi 3000 metros y finalmente al valle central de Oaxaca hasta el pueblo de Atzompa, donde compraría las nuevas vasijas de barro que necesitaba para destilar el mezcal.
To carve memories: The belt of El Señor de Lázaro in Oaxaca 🇲🇽 - María del Carmen Castillo Cisneros recounts the challenge of re-making a sacred belt and how it reveals ancient Zapotec memories.
An ink route from Oaxaca city to Phnom Penh 🇲🇽 - Fernando Aceves writes about the collective energy of printmaking in Oaxaca, which has reached out to Cambodia to help a devastated country recover its artistic capacity.
Daily demons and fabulous animals: In which the author finds her craftswoman but loses her cat 🎓 - Tessa Laird tracks down the maker of her treasured alebrije, a carved animal that embodies the Mexican indigenous belief in the nuhual animal spirit.
Who is the author? Oaxacan wood carvers in global economies of ethnic art - Anthropologist Alanna Cant reflects on the naming rights of alebrije makers in Oaxaca
Elizabeth Marruffo ✿ The pomegranate - Siân Boucherd follows the journey of a Mexican painter in who recreates her culture exquisitely on the other side of the world
Weaving the feathered serpent - Yunuen Perez recounts her journey across the Pacific and the feathered serpent she takes with her.
Mexico: A love I can never quite shake - Damian Smith asks himself why Mexico continues to attract despite its reputation
Después de Frida: Then comes the border complex - Jesús Macarena-Ávila reflects on the renewed relevance of Frida Kahlo's iconic work in the work of US-based artists
Woven histories of Chiapas and Oaxaca - Ansie van der Walt reviews books on textiles of Chiapas and Oaxaca
Dolores Porras and her creative atelier - Santa María Atzompa is acknowledged for its millenary pottery tradition.
A glass bridge across the Pacific - Inspired by Adelaide's JamFactory, Diego Vides Borrell establishes an international glass studio in Oaxaca.
A public offering to the dead in Puebla 🇲🇽 - Alonso Pérez Fragua describes the work of Pueblo artisans in constructing a offering for Day of the Dead in memory of William and Mary Jenkins
Ollas de barro y mezcal – Pots of clay and mezcal 🇲🇽 - Rion Toal details the exquisite skill involved in fermenting mezcal
Oaxacan jewellery: The legacy of Monte Albán 🇲🇽 - Alberto Rojas Calvo recounts the unique qualities of Oaxacan jewellery
Drawing Out the Gold – A Crown of Alfalfa by Katheryn Leopoldseder - The Melbourne jeweller Katheryn Leopoldseder manages to make epic statements out of personal adornment. Here she pays homage to a Mexican scientist was able to develop alfalfa as a non-toxic form of gold-mining. 
Coco and the Disneyfication of craft - Disney's Coco animation seems to demean the life of craft in favour of mass entertainment. Yet, it seems to have a positive net effect for Mexican crafts, particularly in Oaxaca. Coco prompts the question of our relationship to the festival of El Día de los Muertos. Are we spectators, customers or living ghosts?
The dark glow of the mirror in Santiago Carbonell’s mural, Mexico City - Madeleine Kelly reviews the beautiful revolution in Santiago Carbonell's murals for the Mexico Supreme Court
Claudia Fernandez: Ceremonia - Madeleine Kelly's article about Claudia Fernandez reveals practice that oscillates between that of an artist who circulates objects and a curator who heals the wound modernity inflicted on hand-made creations. Her work responds to a range of Mexican crafts.
Second Home - Shelter is a key element of life on earth. Humans construct homes, birds weave nests, insects make cocoons, animals develop skin, sea creatures and nuts grow shells for protection.
Dear Adelaida - Dear Adelaida, Four years ago, I purchased one of your figurines in San Antonio, Texas, from a Mexican folk art store packed with the usual Frida shopping bags, wrestling masks, ceramic jugs and embossed tin picture frames.
Across space and through time: glass and its value - Valeria Florescano looks through glass to see an unfinished creative exchange between Aztecs and Spanish colonisers.

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