Since 2011, Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA) has organized a larger-than-life puppet parade to celebrate Dia de Muertos, (Day of the Dead). Rooted in Mexican cultural traditions and attitudes towards death, this magical festival welcomes the dead to return to life each year to enjoy the pleasures they once knew in life. Dia de Muertos is celebrated differently across the American continent by indigenous communities and their diasporas, finding expression in colorful public festivals and private family celebrations. In New Haven, the puppets are created collectively with the help of many community members, whose DNA and memories reside in each object. This exhibition tells some of their stories through first-person narratives, including ULA Artists-in-Residence Pedro López and Stefanie Loeb, Volunteers Hector Hernandez, Megan Fountain, and Luis Miguel Diaz Calel, and Founder/Director John Lugo. Infused with ULA’s commitment to fight for immigrants’ and workers’ rights, some of the puppets commemorate historical protests and revolutions, while others tell the stories of people who have been more recently disappeared or killed at the hands of state violence.
For the Opening Reception, ULA Artist-in-Residence, Pedro López, led an exhibition walk through, shedding light on the politics and underlying meanings of the objects in the show. Rosario Ciacendo translated from Spanish to English for the bilingual audience. The event ended in a community celebration, with music and traditional foods from Central and South America prepared by local home chefs. Midway through the exhibition, ULA Director John Lugo offered an Anti-Deportation Training for Allies.
top photos: Installation Views of Dia de Muertos, on display at Artspace New Haven, November 14 - 24, 2020. Photos by Ruby Gonzalez Hernandez. Images Courtesy of Artspace.
bottom photos: Artist Talk with Pedro López, and Anti-Deportation Training for Allies. Photo by Sarah Fritchey.