Artwork > Day of the Dead in Oaxaca

The Dia de Muertos (Days of the Dead) in Mexico entails a unique cultural celebration centering on deceased loved ones. The annual celebration punctuates the end of October and beginning of November throughout Mexico. Each region has its own particular traditions. In Oaxaca, the holidays are steeped in the strong regional traditions that can be traced back from Pre-Columbian times through Colonial times and up to the present day.

In 2001 and 2003, art historian Dr. Carey Rote, sociologist Dr. Pamela Meyer, psychologist Dr. Paula Biedenharn, and I (as photographer) travelled to Oaxaca during this festival. We travelled throughout the Valley of Oaxaca visiting archaeological sites, churches, graveyards, markets and individuals homes. We were introduced to and accompanied by Juan Cruz, native of Xoxocotlán and an illustrator for archeologist Dr. Marcus Winter, who led us through the preparations and celebrations and spoke to us of family rituals during this important time of year.

These photographs speak to the history of the Dia de Muertos celebration that dates back to the very beginnings of civilization in Oaxaca. From the earliest archaeological discoveries, progressing through Colonial expressions, the contemporary Dia de Muertos combines the pagan past with Christian ideology and modernist influences to create an atmosphere that is both old and new.

El Pantéon Viejo (old graveyard) in Xoxocotlan awaits visitors
Archival Inkjet Print