Oh, how I love her.
I’m obviously still on my beauty kick, but I’m also still on my ‘death and beauty’ kick. Because it’s me. And I’m morbid.
La Catrina has become one of those images that has seeped into American culture without a lot of discussion of the back story behind the image. Obviously Americans are finding something in the sugar skull, Lady Death, beauty in the destruction image. I wonder what it is that’s so appealing right now.
Originally entitled La Calavera Garbancera, Catrina was first drawn by Jose Guadalupe Posada in satire of those Mexican classes that were striving for a more European style of culture. It was actually a fairly aggressive statement; the imagery in the sketch was in direct comment to classes who were seen as denying their heritage to the point of lightening their skin (the skeletal imagery in the cartoon). Published prior to the Mexican Revolution, the image would eventually become more associated with Dia de Los Muertos as a singular image of death. The image would further evolve-the original cartoon that introduced Catrina portrayed her simply as a skull flaunting a rather loud hat, but the image would eventually portray her as a full skeleton in full formal dress.
Her name would be solidified decades later with the works of Diego Rivera (who painted my favorite Catrinas). Rivera’s Catrinas have the same political subtext while expanding on and further developing the image. In both Posada’s and Rivera’s work there is a heavy political subtext regarding cultural heritage and social standing that hasn’t really translated into the use of the image in American culture.
Though, without a lot of work, it is possible to see that the subtext is there, it has simply shifted into something that is perhaps more applicable to the modern era.
All the money won’t save you, we’re all still going to be skeletons wearing our Sunday best.