Madeleine Fraga Doucet

Catrina figure


Artist Statement:

 This is a life-size mixed media Catrina sculpture I created from scratch using papier-mâché, newspaper, poster board tubes, wire, feathers, masking tape, paint, and 60+ hours of work.

La Calavera Catrina is a Mexican folk figure originally created by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada in the early 20th century. Diego Rivera incorporated her into his 1947 mural Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central which is in Alameda Central Park, Mexico City. She has since become a recognizable and loved folk figure associated with Día de Muertos.

I became so engrossed in the research and creation of this sculpture, I’m a little sad to be done with it- like the feeling of mourning after finishing a really good book. I thought a lot about my family’s history and my Mexican American heritage as I worked on this. There are complicated feelings that come with being a white-passing Hispanic person who was raised with a lot of Mexican cultural touchstones. I’ve spoken with other Mexican American friends and family members who talk about the sadness of not having been raised learning Spanish, as a result of our grandparents or great grandparents feeling pressure to assimilate to American (white) culture and not speak Spanish at home or elsewhere, for example. I also thought a lot about how the image of Frida and other Day of the Dead imagery has become so absorbed into capitalism and heavily commodified…
I don’t have answers to these questions, they are complicated and nuanced.

When working on this project I tried to honor cultural traditions and artistry while adding my own vision. I created this sculpture with a goal of connecting to my ancestry and honoring my family’s lineage in the way that comes most intuitively to me- through art.

Ofrenda shown in first and last photos was built by my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Michael.