“Laughing Bones/Weeping Hearts”

Every year, the Oakland Museum has an exhibit on “Dias de los Muertos” – Days of the Dead.  This year, the exhibit, called “Laughing Bones/Weeping Hearts,” was curated by guest curator Carol Marie Garcia, a visual artist and a scholar of Christianity:

Imagine Death to be a watchful eye that sees both the living and the dead. Looking toward the dead, Death sees laughing bones happy to be liberated. Glancing toward the living, Death sees weeping hearts that are sad for the loss of loved ones.

The intention of this exhibition is to celebrate the liberation of the dead and to attend to the sorrow of the living. Artists and students were invited to both eulogize the dead and to share their mourning process. The result is an exhibition that offers, through humorous and solemn expression, reflection upon life and death. The laughing and the weeping of the Days of the Dead is found in the reoccurring images of skulls smiling brightly, hearts red with passion, and skeletons dancing happily.

A special feature to the exhibit is a double spiral labyrinth. A touchstone for the journey of life, the path is delineated with the shoes of both the living and the dead. The shoes bear witness to the wear of the walk of life. The labyrinth is an invitation for a meditative walk amidst the color, light, sound, and texture of a space steeped in tradition and created for honoring the dead and gathering ourselves in community. “Laughing Bones/Weeping Hearts” is a gathering place to laugh, weep, celebrate, remember and heal.

On the Day of the Dead (All Souls Day), November 2,  seven of us gathered at the museum for a private viewing of the exhibit in memory of Allyson Anthony, who passed away two weeks ago on October 19, 2006.  In San Francisco, the “pottery” group held their own private memorial for Allyson at a restaurant in the Richmond district.

I will miss the “formal” memorial that is being planned for Allyson on January 20, 2007, but if I were to build an ofrenda for Allyson, what would I include?

A large, colored candle, like the ones she would light all over the dining room for the many dinner parties we had at her apartment, in one of her ceramic candle holders.

Some incense that she kept on top of her toilet tank, next to a wooden Indonesian puppet.

A San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW) broom, in memory of her role as “Block Captain” when we lived in the Mission district and were members of a neighborhood association called Calle 22.

Ear plugs, because she had to have quiet.

Movie ticket stubs (for a Wednesday) because she went to the movies at least once a week, even though she invariable fell asleep during the film.

Her swimsuit and cap and the bell from her bicycle, for her early morning swims and rides.  (Her heart and lungs were strong until the very end.)

One or two toys that belonged to her female cats Sophie (who predeceased Allyson) and Hank,  who used to thunder across the hallway in the middle of the night, chasing the toys.

A scarf that she knit when she was no longer strong enough to go to The Clay Studio.

A bird’s nest filled with her ceramic, rakued eggs.

Music – the ofrenda would play a randomized selection of CDs from her collection.

And flowers, always.



1 Response to ““Laughing Bones/Weeping Hearts””

  1. 1 sandrar September 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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