The Artistic Value of the Holidays Celebrating Death

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For many years art has existed and has been a way of uniquely expressing ourselves. It has followed us everywhere in the world and our daily lives, yet it can be ignored. When we do pay attention to art, we can be inspired and influenced by it. Art matters as it allows us to share experiences, think outside the box and connect us culturally. On November 1st, I attended the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at the Minnesota Zoo featuring more than 5,000 illuminated carved pumpkins. The pumpkins were all of the different shapes, sizes, and all unique in their way. The pumpkin that caught my attention was one with a skeleton couple carved on it. The married couple dressed as bride and groom held a heart that symbolized their love. The couple surrounded by flowers and hearts that made the work of art come together. During wedding vows it is common to say 'till love do us part' still, this couple is not parted by death. Fogarty stated that the “arts connect one deeply to one’s own culture, and that is a fundamental human need” (n. d., p.111). The work of art that I observed connected me to my culture and experiences.

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It reminded me of what is celebrated in Mexico on Dia de Los Muertos which translates to Day of the Dead. It’s a day we honor our deceased family members. We put together altars adorned with candles, flowers, the favorite foods of our families, and favorite memories of them. The skull can be found nearly anywhere during Dia de Los Muertos, as it is a common symbol of the day we celebrate. In the altars we set up for our loved ones, skeletons and sugar skulls add the finishing touches. Art depicting skeletons such as the one I observed can remind us of our traditions. Winterson states that art “falls so outside of the safety of your own experience that in order to keep your own world intact, you must deny the other world of the painting” (n. d. , 465). The way I viewed this work of art is the way I have experienced it. Another person could’ve interpreted it in a much different way than me. This work of art might’ve been overlooked or perhaps it was not significant to someone who didn’t experience it. For those who are not familiar with the art, it can be challenging to interpret it. For many people, the skull can be terrifying since it relates to death.

For me, the skull has a deeper meaning that relates to my culture. In my culture, the combination of skulls and flowers are positive symbols that associate with life and love. Death is not always feared but rather celebrated because we believe our loved ones come back to celebrate with us every year. The artwork was successful as it allowed me to think about it deeply and connected me with my culture and experiences. Many people viewed the same work of art like me, I wondered what went through their mind as they looked at it.

All in all, art surrounds us everywhere we go although, sometimes it can go unnoticed. It can create meaning in our lives when we take the time to think about it. When we acknowledge it, it can connect deeply with our own culture and experiences. Art matters because it allows us to think differently. It allows us to interpret it in many ways, there is no right or wrong answer to how we should perceive it.

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The Artistic Value of the Holidays Celebrating Death. (2020, December 28). WritingBros. Retrieved May 27, 2024, from
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