Skulls at International Day of the Dead exhibit bring artful interpretations of death to Granville Island

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      Sugar skulls may be a Mexican tradition, but over the next few weeks, an exhibition on Granville Island will see the medium crossing international lines thanks to the work of artist Ari De La Mora.

      With the help of Granville Island Cultural Society's executive director, Barbara Chirinos, De La Mora has organized the second annual International Day of the Dead exhibition and tour.

      One Mexico City-based artist and 20 Vancouver-based artists representing different nations have each painted skulls to showcase their culturally-influenced interpretations of death. The innovative tour is being held in window fronts at participating businesses on Granville Island until November 15. A selection of seven skulls will also be exhibited at the Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery (1241 Cartwright Street). 

      "Day of the dead is my favourite celebration of the year," De La Mora told the Straight in a telephone interview. "The image of the skull is pretty much everywhere these days, and I wanted to remind people of the importance of the date, of the image, and of our ancestors."

      Skull painted by Farahnaz Samari.

      The artist said she wanted to bring an event similar to Day of the Dead to Vancouver, but one that would reflect the city's multicultural population.

      "I wanted to find out how different cultures approach death. It's something we all have in common, even though we believe in different things, many of us believe that there is something else after death," she said. "It's a way to learn from each other."

      Artists include Olga Rybalko (Ukraine), Corey Matthews (Canada), Jace Junggyu (South Korea), Farahnaz Samari (Iran), Osvaldo Ramirez (El Salvador), Jan Wade (Canada), Pepe Hidalgo (Spain), Jorge Manjarrez (Mexico), Richard Kent (Mexico), and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun (Coast Salish).

      The clay skulls were handcrafted and provided by a group of indigenous female artisans from the Popoloca culture situated in Los Reyes Metzontla in Puebla, Mexico.

      Participating storefronts include Aurum Argentum Goldsmiths (1351 Railspur Alley), Gallery of B.C. Ceramics (1359 Cartwright Street), New Leaf Editions (1370 Cartwright Street), Craft Council of B.C. (1386 Cartwright Street), The Fishbowl (100 - 1398 Cartwright Street), Ocean Breath Yoga (1521 Foreshore Walk), Inkary (1664 Duranleau Street), The John Nutter Studio (1659 Duranleau Street), Kroma Acrylics (1649 Duranleau Street), Devil May Wear (110 - 1666 Johnston Street), Bodacious Lifestyles (109 - 1535 Johnston Street), and Dragonspace (1551 Johnston Street). 

      Find a catalogue of the skulls and a map of the exhibition spaces here