Purchase, the Michael Darren Kelm Memorial Fund and the Kelm-Malais Family
Chicana artist, activist, and academic Amalia Mesa-Bains explores the intricacies of feminism, Catholicism, colonialism, and Indigenous Mexican cultures. Here the artist combines text, photography, and digital imagery to highlight the role of women in a community’s collective history and memory. The upper inscription, reading “cempaz u chitl,” is another way of writing cempasúchil, or marigold, in Mexico. This text and the superimposed flowers refer to the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, with the marigolds serving to guide visiting spirits to the altars created by their loved ones. The ending of death becomes the beginning of the afterlife.