Mexican-American Artist Explores Heritage, Identity for Dia de los Muertos

 Growing up, Nelda Reyes remembered a time when she lived among five generations of family members. “So I was able to meet some of my great-great-grandparents,” Reyes said. That gave the Mexican-American artist and educator…

by | Oct 29, 2019 | Art & Design, Culture

Growing up, Nelda Reyes remembered a time when she lived among five generations of family members. “So I was able to meet some of my great-great-grandparents,” Reyes said.

Nelda Reyes

That gave the Mexican-American artist and educator access to the roots of her indigenous culture. And those experiences would help shape her work today, which focuses on Latin American and Mexican culture through physical theater, folk dance, language, music and crafts. Her work ties together threads of the past and present to explain life experience and identity, and it’s why she finds herself in Jackson this week.

Reyes is leading Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) workshops in Jackson schools and at Center for the Arts. The ancient cultural tradition honors friends and family who have died. For Reyes and others, it is also an introspective exercise: “a way for me to remember who I am and where I came from.”

She visited the KHOL studio to discuss her October 29 workshop on calaveras, satirical poems that honor the dead, and the social and cultural significance of Dia de los Meurtos.

Above: A Dia de los Meurtos ofrenda (altar) that honors the dead.

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About Robyn Vincent

Robyn launched KHOL's news department. She has worked as a reporter and editor in Wyoming for the last decade and her work has aired on NPR stations throughout the West. When she's not sweating deadlines, Robyn sustains her nomadic heart by traveling the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow @TheNomadicHeart

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