How do you remember friends and family who have died? In Mexico, the deceased are honoured on the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which occurs on Nov. 1 and 2 every year. One of the traditions associated with this holiday is the construction of an altar called an ofrenda. Friends and relatives build ofrendas in homes, offices and cemeteries to honour the departed with personal offerings, such as favourite foods, drinks and yellow marigolds known by their Aztec name of zempoaxochitl (meaning “flowers of death”).
We invited Mexican artist Carlomagno Pedro Martínez to construct this ofrenda in the Honey & Barry Sherman Gallery (Gallery 246, on the second level) to honour Frida and Diego, and for you to make your own offerings to honour the memories of these two great artists.
Detailed views of Carlomagno Pedro Martínez’s ofrenda in the AGO
Two ways you can contribute to the ofrenda:
Letters to Frida and Diego
In her diary, Frida Kahlo expressed both her happiness and sadness. She filled her pages with words and images about thoughts and feelings. We encourage visitors to use the paper and pencils provided in the space to write their own thoughts and feelings about Frida, Diego or the exhibition, or bring pre-written notes, and place them on the ofrenda to honour the artists’ memories.
Flowers, especially zempoaxochitl (marigolds), adorn the ofrenda. The bright orange flowers are used to make paths so that spirits of loved ones will see their way home. Making colourful paper zempoaxochitl is a tradition in Mexico for Día de los Muertos. We provide the materials and detailed instructions you need to create tissue-paper flowers on-site!
About Carlomagno Pedro Martínez
Carlomagno Pedro Martínez, born Oaxaca, Mexico in 1965, is a Mexican artist who creates ceramic sculptures based on his interpretation of Mexican legends and local Oaxacan traditions. The ceramics are made in the tradition of Barro Negro, a firing technique that produces a black surface. His work is held by several North American museums including the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. Martínez is currently the director of the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular de Oaxaca, a museum dedicated to exhibiting handcrafts of the state of Oaxaca.