Día de los Muertos is a celebration of death as a part of life. We asked students to consider humor, stories, food, rituals, and symbols that mark the holiday as one that reminds us of hope and love in our lives for their embossed metal project. Students combined this traditional folk craft with yarn painting techniques inspired by the Huichol or Wixárika, an indigenous people of Mexico.

Papel picado (meaning cut/shredded paper) was initially produced by creators in San Salvador Huixcolotla in Mexico, although it has also been found to be inspired by Chinese cut paper creations and methods the Aztecs once used. Traditionally made with tissue paper and chisels, papel picado is used for a few different holidays, but is known to grace ofrendas during Dia de los Muertos and portray images of birds, flowers or plants, and skeletons or skulls.

While drawing inspiration from the origins of Día de los Muertos, the works of celebrated papel picado artists, the designs and patterns of contemporary illustrators, and their own lived experiences or feelings, students created detailed papel picado pieces that explore the celebration of life or honor those that have passed.

While drawing inspiration from the origins of Día de los Muertos, examples of contemporary calaveras, and personal experiences or memories, students created a Papier-Mâché calaveras that reflect and honor a loved one or ancestor. Students shaped their calaveras using newsprint, and used colored tissue paper to give it color, with additional decorating with acrylic paints.

Inspired by Mexican folktales and beliefs about Día de los Muertos, students created a series of photo illustrations utilizing a variety of techniques and styles. Some of the digital applications used include Adobe Photoshop, Pixlr, Procreate, Krita and others.