For Day of the Dead, the family of Luis Góngora Pat in San Francisco, California and Teabo Yucatan, collaborated with Adriana Camarena and Paz de la Calzada on a Day of the Dead Altar titled “Threading the life of a Mayan” to honor the memory of the deceased.
The altar explores various themes related to thread. The thread of migration, the embroidery work of the women of Teabo, textile as a silent female voice linked to protest, the family work of mending a police killing, the loss of a life in an Mayan mestizo community in San Francisco and Yucatan, and the human chain of supporters required to raise up Luis’s justice cause. The viewer can add their own experience.
The altar includes the following highlights:
Two hand embroidered altar cloths by Lulí, a relative of the deceased, one by hand, one by machine. Altar cloths are traditional forms of Mayan mestizo artwork placed on Day of the Dead altars. The altar cloths are embroidered with religious iconography and the dates of death and birth of the deceased. On the altar cloths exhibited, Lulí inscribed a non-traditional text that repeats the family’s words of protest: Justice & Honor for Luis Góngora Pat.
With hand+dyed cotton thread, this text was connected to the embroidery of an hipil, the traditional dress of the Mayan mestiza. We intend to connect the claim for justice to the women of Teabo, who appear silenced due to their distance to San Francisco.
A video in the installation shows (from right to left) Carmen May Can, the widow of Luis Góngora Pat, her grandchild, her daughter Rossana and her daughter-in-law Sandy, embroidering a festive hipil in the morning light. This image transfers miles away to the scene of the killing by police of Luis Góngora Pat. Next, we see his brother Jose spooling a thread to be used for weaving. Jose is handy with the thread due to his traditional hammock weaving skills. He speaks to us in Mayan about his brother. We cannot understand what he is telling us. The scene evokes the many distances we must cross to understand the impact of the killing of Luis on this Mayan family.
The altar exhibit at SOMARTS opened October 6th and closes November 9th, 2017. Please join us at the closing or pass by anytime to experience this threaded altar. Event and gallery information follows.
An essay titled also “Threading the Life of a Mayan,” El Tecolote, Nov. 2, 2017
An essay by the same title “Threading the life of a Mayan,” as the altar appears in the El Tecolote issue of November 2, 2017, Day of the Dead, providing further context to the struggle of Luis’s widow, Carmen May Can and his brother Jose. Pick one up at Acción Latina (or a local cafe during week of publication) or read online.