Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead


This Fall I am very excited to announce the launch of my new line of Limited Edition Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead Jewelry. I hope you enjoy these new playful pieces as much as I enjoyed creating them. Over the years I have incorporated a few sugar skulls in my work here and there and people sometimes ask, “what is with the skulls?” I love this question because it offers me an opportunity to talk about my beautiful Mexican cultural heritage and it’s traditions. Most of the time people assume that I really like Halloween. Others think it is all about death or something scary. So I wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in on one of the most sacred and beautiful traditions in the world.

Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead is simply put a celebration of life. For three days we celebrate the lives of the people we love who have passed. We remember them, what they liked to eat, their favorite music, their stories. During those three day we prepare ofrendas/ alters for those who have passed filled with beautiful flowers, delicious food, and recuerdos (special momentos or pictures) of the loved ones. We make or buy sugar skulls with our children to teach them to not fear the dead or death itself. We sometimes even paint our faces as sugar skulls to participate in the celebration of our loved ones return. These sugar skulls represent the people who died. They are a symbol of this celebration of life in our culture. We believe that the actual spirits of our loved ones come to visit us during this time. It is a beautiful sacred time for us to be with them again and a time for us to remember them and pass on their stories to our children.

Over the years many more of our people have begun to celebrate this tradition here in the USA. As a Xicana, a Mexican born here to a migrant worker family, I am very proud of my culture and heritage. I want my son’s to grow up knowing about their beautiful culture and heritage and to be proud as well. It is so amazing to see that the beauty of our traditions have survived and made it all the way here to Minnesota. Being displaced from my roots at a young age I didn’t grow up celebrating many of my cultural holidays. It wasn’t until I came here in college that I found myself again. I am so happy that now I am able to share this with my children and that they will learn to pass it onto theirs too. This line is made in celebration of that. I chose the symbol of the sugar skull because of it’s duality and playfulness. I want people to wear these pieces and feel my joy of being able to celebrate my cultural heritage. I want these pieces to be a recuerdo (reminder) to never forget those we love who have left this world. To celebrate our loved ones and the lives they lived. And ultimately to remind ourselves to live our lives with passion and intent because someday someone will be remembering us and telling our story.

I am also very happy to be included again in this Year’s Festival de las Calaveras (Sugar Skulls) I will be showing my work at Electric Machete’s new gallery in St. Paul on their opening night on Oct. 16th at 7pm. Last year two of my shrines/ ofrendas were included but this year I will be showcasing my new line of Calavera jewelry. There will be the limited edition artisan line as well as an expanded calavera everyday wear line. So please come by the opening if you can and see it!




And in case you are wondering…What’s Festival de las Calaveras in Minnesota all about?

Festival de las Calaveras is a multimedia Latino music and arts festival organized and presented by Tlalnepantla Arts. The festival focuses on the traditional and contemporary celebration of Day of the Dead, which honors the memory of ancestors and loved ones, the duality of life and death, and the corn growing season.

In 2013, the first festival was organized to bring awareness to the Zenteotl Project’s community gardening work that is dedicated to planting blue corn, and extends the collective Day of the Dead ofrenda (offering) that culminates the corn growing season on the same plot where the corn is planted in south Minneapolis.

The festival extends the mission of Tlalnepantla Arts to honor and share an indigenous Mexican tradition with the Latino community and the Twin Cities, and to build a platform for the presentation of multiple forms of art and creativity that express our cultural pride.

Fore more information about Tlalnepantla Arts and the Zenteotl Project, please visit Proyecto Zenteotl (Zenteotl Project).

The Zenteotl Project strives to reclaim and recover our connection with zentli (corn), the earth, and community through gardening and creative expression in our urban Minneapolis environment. 

Marisa Martinez