In 1972, Chicana/o artists held the first Día de los Muertos exhibits in the USA to publicly honor Mexican heritage in a majority Anglo-American society. Day of the Dead altar installations and art became mediums for publicly communicating about Latino identities and political struggles. Weaving together various elements of the US Latino experience – including Roman Catholic, Indigenous, and Mestizo artistic and cultural traditions juxtaposed with aspects of US popular culture, US Day of the Dead celebrations assumed an ideological and political value that far transcended the holiday’s original religious meaning in Latin America. This celebration of the dead had unexpected appeal with non-Latinos, who felt that mainstream US culture lacked public opportunities to collectively remember and heal after the death of loved ones. Today, the holiday is a popular autumn ritual in schools, museums, community centers and commercial venues across the US. Through various communication flows (the mass media, tourism, commerce), Chicano artistic influences have not only proliferated across the USA, adding a new celebration to the holiday calendar, but have also migrated to Mexico and other parts of the globe.
|Keywords:||Chicano Art, Chicano Movement, Day of the Dead, El Día de los Muertos, Latinization, Imagined Community, Art and Politics, Mexican-American Identity, Alternative Media|
Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
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