Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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La Calavera de la Catrina
La Calavera de la Catrina
My Love Sings When the Flower is Near (The Philosopher and the Woman)
My Love Sings When the Flower is Near (The Philosopher and the Woman)

Can art uncover a lighter side of death?

The ubiquitous skulls and skeletons that appear in art across time and place are, more often than not, symbols of decay, disease, and corruption, warnings of danger, or prognostications of death’s ultimate victory over the flesh. However, in more recent times especially, as the arsenal of weapons against death has become stronger and lifespans have lengthened, some artists have found occasion to bring out a lighter side in these traditional symbols of mortality.

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Questions to Consider

  • Both Posada and Filomeno present their skeletons with a degree of playfulness. To what extent are their goals in doing so the same or different?
  • Think about the materials used to create each work of art. How does the difference in media change the significance of each piece?
  • Posada’s Catrina would most likely be seen on the street in the context of Day of the Dead festivities. Filomeno’s piece, in contrast, would likely be confronted in a museum, gallery, or personal collection. How might setting influence your reaction to the work in each case?