After buying a mask from West Africa on South Chicago's African Festival of the Arts last September, and working on it on and off for the last year, I have now finished the beadwork! It's loaded with symbolism, and it is in memory of someone dear to me who passed away. It is my interpretation of a calavera de azucar, or sugar skull, a Mexican tradition used to remember the dead. Traditions connected with the Day of the Dead include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting their grave with these as gifts.
The skulls are molded from a sugar paste, decorated with icing, glitter and foil, then placed on altars as decoration and eaten on the Day of the Dead. The sugar represents the sweetness of life, and the skull represents the sadness of death. The first initial of the deceased is carved out on the sugar skull's forehead, and the eye sockets are covered with marigold flowers, which scent is believed to attract the soul and draw them back. Marigolds are also a symbol of passion and creativity, attributes that are an apt description of the person I commemorate with this piece.
My skull is part dark, part light, symbolizing both the balance as well as the conflict between good and evil, yin and yang, life's sweetness and life's suffering. The dark section is made up of leather lilies, another flower symbolizing many things. Of these many meanings, I chose the lily for its symbol of the short-lived. The light sections contain circles made of lace-like beadwork, calling out memories of the old fashioned crocheted doilies from my childhood in Holland.
|'Gehaakt kleedje' - Dutch for dowdy doily|
|The soul glo-sofa from the movie 'Coming to America'|
GABROEN on behalf of Gabriella