At the end of Marking Period 1, ceramics 1 students created Mexican tree of life designs in honor of the holiday Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). While students have enjoyed using their free-lance creativity to construct their projects, they have also gotten to immerse themselves in Mexican culture.
Dorothy Tang ’23 said, “I’ve learned that the tree of life was created as a way for people to connect with their deceased ancestors. I also think it’s cool how they use the trees to represent their belief in the possibility of living after death.”
The creation of Arboles de la Vida (Trees of Life) is a part of a folk art pottery tradition from the central region of Mexico. The origins of the trees date back to the 1920s when Aurelio Flores became the first potter to begin making more intricate candelabra designs with incense burners.
The construction of these trees has required delicate handling, and students have encountered multiple challenges while constructing their trees.
Dorothy noted that the most challenging part of the project “was trying to figure out how to make my tree stand up. There are so many curves and different sections of my design that it has taken me multiple attempts to make it stand up correctly.”
Although many students do not celebrate the holiday, the Day of the Dead has a special meaning to ceramics teacher Ms. Graham. Ms. Graham, from California, said that she is more familiar with Mexican culture and has spent much time in Mexico. “The celebrations for the holiday of the Day of the Dead is one of the things that spoke to me. I appreciate folk art all around the world, but especially in Mexico.”
Ms. Graham celebrates the holiday every year with her family, even though she no longer lives in California, where there are many elaborate celebrations every year. She builds an altar every year in honor of the celebration that she decorates with marigolds from her garden and photos of her loved ones that have passed. Ms. Graham even turns the lights out in her home and uses the candles from the altar as her source of light. Students and faculty members will take pleasure in students’ completed products by the end of next week, which will be displayed in glass cases by the main staircase in the Chesebro Academic Center.