On Tuesday I finally finished my little Day of the Dead grave. It started as the week 1 challenge in my Work of Art group over on Flickr. The challenge was to take a piece of kitchshy art and turn it into something else. My trip to Eco Thrift hooked me up with a few little gems: A handcarved wood guy, some broken pink glass and a small “dresser” with some sort of fake plants inside where the mirror would be. Old, grungy and just not very much fun.
The more I worked with these things, the more I knew it was going to become a grave marker of some sort. With Dia de los Muertos on the way, it seemed to make sense. Also, my family recently finished engraving our grandparents’ headstone to include my grandma’s info and my sister had sent me a photo from back east. They’ve been on my mind a LOT lately. Grandpa’s been gone over 20 years and grandma’s been gone about 4 years, but I still miss them like it was yesterday.
I thought about how awesome they were and their special little quirks that made them my grandma and grandpa, that made them my mom’s parents, that made them the hard workers their neighbors knew them as, and so on. Most of their friends and family are gone and once my siblings and my mom and aunt are gone, all of those memories will be gone, too. Wouldn’t it be cool if their headstone had a little drawer where we could store photos and stories and mementos so that when people came by the cemetery, they could read about these people I loved so much. I spent the month of October thinking about this kind of loss that happens when nobody remembers us anymore. I can’t even count how many times I have said to my husband, “I wish you could have met grandpa; he would have loved you.”
Using plaster of paris, I created a grave where the figure is partly above ground to signify that he’s gone, and part of the earth and the universe, but still very much a part of the living world as well. The little dresser is the headstone, with flowers and lights and glitter inside the glass to pay tribute and celebrate the life that once was. The tiny drawers hold symbols of the life the person in the grave has left behind.
And yes, he’s holding an umbrella. Just in case it rains.