Featured Artist, Zaida Machado
Zaida Machado, is a Mexican contemporary artist based in Utah, graduated from Utah Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art. Her love for painting started in her infancy, influenced by her mother, and was further cultivated in high school by her mentor and art teacher, Jeff Layne. Since then, Zaida has been dedicated to painting, specializing in figure paintings and portraits.
As a painter, Zaida's artistic expression encompasses a diverse range of styles. Her work includes abstract portraits that incorporate flowers. Through her art, Zaida seeks to capture the beauty of her subjects. Her abstract portraits are a unique interpretation of her subjects' inner and outer beauty, infused with bold and vibrant colors that evoke a sense of energy and vitality. The presence of flowers within Zaida's portraits holds a profound symbolism, enriching her work with layers of meaning.
These botanical elements symbolize not only the ephemeral beauty of nature but also the transformative power of growth and renewal. Just as flowers undergo a process of growth and transformation, so too do the subjects of her portraits. Zaida's art serves as a poignant reminder that beauty can be found in the evolution of the self. For Zaida, the flowers that adorn her canvases are not mere decorative elements; they are potent metaphors for growth and transformation. Just as flowers undergo a remarkable journey of blossoming and renewal, so too do the subjects of her portraits. Zaida's art serves as a poignant reminder that beauty is not static but rather a dynamic process, a narrative of continual evolution and self-discovery.
Zaida's artwork has been exhibited in various galleries in St. George and Salt Lake City. Her paintings and drawings have won several awards, including the Dean's Choice Award, 10th place in the Utah Senate Visual Arts Competition, and 1st place in the Latin Arte contest by Artes de Mexico en Utah. Zaida has also created commissioned artwork.
An ofrenda is a home altar that is used annually during the Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebration. Offerings are placed on the ofrenda, alongside pictures of deceased loved ones, to remember them. Some people believe that on the Day of the Dead, the spirits of dearly departed ancestors have the opportunity to come back and be with their families in the land of the living. Ofrendas are decorated with things that might aid these spirits on their journey, or things that the spirits might enjoy when they visit. Marigolds, for example, are traditionally placed on and around ofrendas to guide them to their homes. Foods, drinks, and sometimes even instruments are placed on ofrendas for them to use and enjoy when they reach their destination.
These perforated paper banners known as papel picado are often used on the Day of the Dead, but are also a popular Mexican folk art that are known to to be used as decorations for things such as Easter, weddings, quinceaneras, baptisms, christenings, and more. However, during the Day of the Dead, some people believe that when the papel picados sway, it means that a spirit has finished their journey and has just arrived from the other side to be with their loved ones.
Sugar skulls, or calaveras de azucar, are used as symbols to represent a person who has passed. They are made of a granulated white sugar mixture that is pressed into a skull shaped mold and then decorated. They are often placed on ofrendas or even gravestones themselves to commemorate the loved one who has passed. Although they are not harmful to eat, they are traditionally only for decoration as they are typically only made of sugar and meringue so they are not easy to digest.
It is believed that marigolds help guide the spirits of the ancestors to their ofrendas on the Day of the Dead using their bright colors and pungent scents. Marigolds were also considered by the Aztecs to be a sacred flower, for decorative and medicinal purposes.
Alebrijes were created by Mexican folk artist and papercraft artist Pedro Linares Lopez. It is often said that Pedro once fell very ill and had fever dreams of strange brightly colored animals with wings that shouted “Alebrije!” to him, which gave him the inspiration for his first designs. As his paper mache creations rose to popularity, they became enraptured with the Dia de Muertos traditions and became intertwined with its legends. Alebrijes became known as “spirit guides” that helped lead ancestors to and from the Earth from the spirit world. Thus, alebrijes are now displayed prominently in many Day of the Dead celebrations today.