How do you celebrate the life of a loved one that has passed?
As a Latino, I have always known Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead as the way to commemorate the life of those who have departed. Día de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition resulting from a mix of indigenous practices and Spanish Catholicism. It is celebrated October 31 through November 2. It is a about acknowledging death, grieving, memorializing loved ones, and celebrating them for who they were when they were alive.
Although, I have seen pieces of this tradition make their way into events like Halloween, with face paint, costumes, and animated movies, I have not seen the core element of coming to terms with death make the same cross-cultural leap. This observation inspired me to create the Dia de Los Casi Muertos Project.
Dia de Los Casi Muertos or Day of the Almost Dead is an homage to the Mexican tradition that serves as a reminder that life is finite and death walks with us every day. The project explores cultural experiences with death and aging through a video and photography installation.
Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 6 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
2525 Distribution St, Charlotte, NC 28203
Saturday, October 22, 2016 – TBA
Día de Los Casi Muertos, 2013
What made you decide to be part of this exhibition?
I had someone ask me if I was going to put some art in a show. I said no; she said good. I said, “Why good”? She said, “Because there is a certain clientele we don’t want to offend”. I thought, “So now artists are going to censor artists”?
What are your thoughts on religion?
I believe there is a power that caused all this and everything of the same element and so we are really the same thing.
That concept, of a god, to me feels very primitive; it feels like one step away from throwing a virgin into a volcano to appease a volcano god or ripping someone’s heart out to appease a fertility god.
I went to church. I grew up in a church.
The closest I can come to any religious beliefs would be Buddhism.
What do you think happens when someone dies?
I call it the great mystery. It’s a continuation of life. The body is there and the soul has gone to heaven. Heaven could be in the sky, heaven could be in outer space; wherever. It’s gone. There we will recognize other people, other souls, as individuals. There won’t be a body recognition but a soul recognition.
What advice would you give to younger people?
I would advise people not to worry as much. When I’m active and working on something I feel better and healthier. If I focus on things that are not working, it’s not healthy for me. So as you get older, be kind to yourself, but you have to be practical.
Be productive. Be kind to others.
When you make mistakes, the goal is to learn from those mistakes not to punish yourself.
People look at what the advantages are to getting older and there are not a lot of them. One is you just don’t have the energy to worry about the little things as much.
Have you ever been present at the moment of a person’s death?
Yes, my father’s.
What I remember most about it, was prior to his death, maybe a day or two, I had taken him to his home in Stanly County, and I remember hearing a very unusual sound in the house. I heard it more than once because we were at his home less than a week when we died and I know I heard it at least twice. It sounded like a very large bird of some kind, rustling feathers. You would hear it momentarily and then it was gone.
My sister had made some calls and had gone outside to wait for the hospice nurse to come and pronounce my father dead. I was bathing him and trying to position him so his mouth would not be open. I was washing his face and chest. As I looked into his face it was like….a regression from his state at that moment to when he was a much younger man. It happened not very rapidly but not too slowly and I could just see the regression going back to the point where he was probably 19 years old. All this was happening as I was looking at his face. It was as if his natural face was almost translucent and you could look through the natural face until he turned to where he looked like he was 19 years old. I was so glad that I was able to be there to see that.
I was allowed to see a positive side of death. A side that showed me it is not the end, well the end of your life here on this earth but not the end of a person’s spirit.
If you are interested in participating in the project please fill out the form below.