Dia de los Muertos Artist
The first toys I can remember were a plastic skeleton and winged devil, gifts from my grandmother. Other kids has GI Joes and Batman action figures but I was never envious of them. My toys allowed my imagination to stretch it’s boundaries and make friends with the very things that give other children nightmares.
Toys like these are often given to children in Mexico so their first encounter with death isn’t a fearful one. It helps to teach them that though we are always in the presence of death, life is for the living, and it is to be lived…until the time comes for us to no longer do so.
If I find it interesting I will paint it. Sometimes the piece inspires the art, other times I have the idea and all I need is the canvas. While I do canvas work I find that I really enjoy creating functional art.
Traditional Dia De Los Muertos symbols of skulls, crucifixes and devils are painted with bright colors in creative combinations. These non-traditional works of art give us insight into the mind of the artist, Ladislao Loera.
It seems to me that a lot of people treat death as if it is curable. When, in reality, death isn’t a disease, it is a matter of course. It’s a door we will all step through and making our peace with it will make our time here more precious.
Ladi remembers his mother telling him about going to the cemetery with her brother and grandmother. The kids would play catch while their grandmother set up a picnic at the gravesite, and all the while other families were doing the same.
I don’t think of death with the same finality that most people do. I believe we go on and I believe that we really do keep the ones we love with us, so while I miss their physical presence that hasn’t stopped me from talking to them from time to time.
Changing Views of Death
I used to see Day of the Dead as a fun holiday. I am attracted to all the skulls, skeletons and devils lurking about. They don’t frighten me, they intrigue me. I loved the celebration, I still do, but I was focused on the party aspect of the holiday.
After Chris, my partner of 18 years, passed away, the holiday took on a more spiritual tone for me. I do still enjoy the celebration, the dancing, the music, the art, but I now understand that the holiday is a form of healing as well. It is a way to remain close to those who have left us here. It is a way to remind us of the joy we shared. It is a way to lessen the pain of loss by honoring the loss, by giving it voice. By honoring the loss we honor the ones we lost, we honor what we had and we honor ourselves. Grief can only be present if there was something to grieve over.
My artwork had a lot of scenes and fun portraits of skeletons doing their thing, but after Chris passed away I noticed that something shifted and my artwork began to use more realistic aspects of the skull and skeleton. Death had now become real to me and that reflected itself in my Day of the Dead Art. It’s been several years since Chris’ passing and my artwork had continued to shift of it’s own accord. The realism is still there but so is the fun that I had in my earlier work. I have more modern renditions of skulls and skeletons and a series of portraits that honor people both living and dead.
Death was something I didn’t fully understand, then it became real to me, now it is surreal to me in that it remains a mystery that none of us can comprehend. Once we are let in the secret, we have already moved into the mystery. I have my ideas of what death is like, and I am sure that I will be surprised when I finally find out. It could be just like I imagine, or nothing like I imagine – either way I am sure it will be something to behold.