Paintings and multiple-themed, devotional altars will transform the Bihl Haus Arts Gallery into a large-scale, magnificent Dia de Muertos ofrenda by David Zamora Casas during the installation “Love and Death in Times of Pandemic/Amor y La Muerte en Tiempos de Pandemia” opening virtually at 5:30 p.m. Monday, November 2 at www.BihlHausArts.org.
The exhibition, which closes December 12, will host virtual events every two weeks. In addition, a maximum of 10 guests will be allowed to view the installation on-site during 30-minute slots on select weekends from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. First in-person viewing will be November 7 and 8. All CDC and City COVID-19 guidelines will be strictly observed. Reservations can be made online at Bihl Haus website.
“This Texas-inspired contemporary Dia de Muertos ofrenda fuses Aztec, Catholic, pagan, Chicana/o and queer culture elements to re-envision the Mexican grand formal altars of the Catholic church, el campo santo/graveyard and home domestic altars,” Zamora Casas said.
The multi-media installation, he added, seeks to preserve tradition and cultural heritage and “comment on contemporary social and political issues through paintings, photographs, dioramas and flowers that enhance this sacred ritual site for this celebration, meditation, collective healing, unification and mourning in the continuance of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the Covid-19 national disaster.”
As part of the installation, “Make Water Pure Again, Bring My Baby Back to Life Again'' is an ofrenda component dedicated to deceased children and infants. El Dia de Los Angelitos/Day of the Angels is celebrated November 1.
Various sculptures of Aztec and Catholic deities are suspended from the rafters alongside multi-colored, twinkling lights. A milky way of stars made of tamale husks create a celestial sky.
The feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl, La Virgen de San Juan De Los Lagos/Our Lady of the Lake and cherubs are made of old tools, artificial flowers, deer antlers, barb wire and bone. Reconstructed found objects and materials are juxtaposed with the sacred and profane. A soundscape recording of electronic digital music by Garry and Dwayne Dassing with text by DZC are part of the multidisciplinary experience. Iconography is inspired by the late Pilar Correa Davis, Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ+ and LatinX communities.
Zamora Casas invites the community to contribute memories that reflect on experiences related to infant mortality, Covid-19, HIV-AIDS, immigrant detention centers and concentration camps, police/law enforcement policies, hope, temporal life and spirit world. These items are to be delivered to Bihl Haus Arts on a date TBD.
Zamora Casas is a multidisciplinary artist and San Antonio native who has built Dia de Muertos ofrendas in the public forum for the past three decades. Community collaborators include photographer Al Rendon, Afro-Latina poet Adella Arellano, Chicana poet Victoria Garcia Zapata, Afro-Indigenous and settler descendent and post-modern dancer Fabiola Ochoa Toralba, Bihl Haus Art instructors and Goldens, Martinez Street Women's Center, activist-writer Marisol Cortez, scholar Ruben C. Cordova, Ph.D., and Deborah Kaercher, CEO of Transitions and Decisions.
For more information, www.bihlhausarts.org or (210) 383-9723.