Día de los Muertos honoring Corn Mothers

History is filled with “Wise Women” who have been forgotten. In a closing reception on Nov. 2nd, for “Return of the Corn Mothers” the exhibition at the Center For Visual Arts (965 Santa Fe - Denver) will honor the mothers with a special Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead celebration from 5-10 p.m.
Master Mexican folklorist Rita Wallace, Jewish storyteller Cherie Swartz, African American storyteller Lois Burrell, and painter Evelyn Valdez will be honored along with community activist Barbara Shannon Banister and Chicana activist Dora Esquibel. Two of the original Corn Mothers, have passed since the shows inception in 2007. “We do not want to wait until these amazing women are dead to celebrate what they have contributed to the community,” said Patricia Sigala, of Santa Fe New Mexico Museum of International Folk Art, who is also a Corn Mother.
This special Dia de Los Muertos celebration will also mark the first time that the Center For Visual Art has hosted a Day of the Dead celebration. Special guest Judy Newland from Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology will give a talk about the significance of the holiday. She will be joined by local storytellers in creating a Day of the Dead “tellabration.”
Healers from several different traditions, (Aztec, Mexica, and Lakota) will host a group blessing to honor all participants and museum patrons. An Aztec candle light processional for the beloved departed will take place at 6:30 p.m. free atole, sugar skulls, face painting and traditional music will round out the night. Admission is free.
“Return of the Corn Mothers,” opened on Sept.20 after a two year tour out of United States. The exhibition features 32 stories and portraits of women from Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. These modern unsung heroines are multi-generational, multi-cultural and they are true Wild West women, who create change!
Award-winning photographer Todd Pierson spent five years interviewing subjects for the exhibition. Return of the Corn Mothers features 34 women (Corn Mothers) from Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, who have earned the respect and admiration of their community for their activism and creative endeavors. Each woman also recounts in story form her memories of other women who influenced her. A documentary short by C'Rodrigo of nDigiDreams gives a behind-the-scene account of the project.
The exhibition, a 2007 Rocky Mountain Women's Institute and 2009 Colorado Endowment for the Humanities award winner, is based on the Pueblo myth of the Corn Mother, a legendary entity synonymous with Mother Earth, who represents growth, life, creativity and the feminine aspects of the world. The exhibition has most recently been hosted by Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology and Highlands University (Las Vegas, New Mexico), Ray Drew Gallery.
Featured Corn Mothers include: world-renowned Isleta Pueblo potter Stella Teller; fine artist Evelyn Valdez-Martinez, who paints the Tarahumara; Concha Allen, a curandera from Mexico; Patricia Sigala, outreach educator at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe; Rita Wallace, a famed Mexican folk artist and Amy Banker, an arts activist for youth. Also featured are: civil rights activist Barbara Shannon Banister; Dora Esquibel; muralist Arlette Lucero; Dr. B. Afeni McNeely Cobham and Dr. Ella Marie Ray, professors of African/African American Studies MSU Denver; and storyteller Lois Burrell. The exhibition features interactive workshop stations where visitors are able to record their own Corn Mothers Stories and create artwork using recycled materials.
For more information on the exhibition contact the MSU Denver Center For Visual Art at 303-294-5207 or email conleycu@msudenver.edu or Dr. Renee Fajardo at 720-329-0869, jtoh2011@hotmail.com or visit the website at www.mscd.edu/journey or www.returnofthecornmothers.com

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