In honor of the Day of the Dead (and this being an extra-special Day of the Dead with it’s happening on 11/1/11 – I am one of those people who thinks multiple “1’s” mean something), I thought it’d be fun to post this interview I did 2 years ago. If you’ve never been to one of these celebrations, you can sort of get an idea of what it’s like by following the links above or watching the video below, but I highly recommend experiencing it for yourself if you can. Feliz Dia de los Muertos!
“Art is capable of reaching across time and space
to communicate and change us.”
– Samantha Breault
I randomly met Samantha when I went to the Day of the Dead celebration in downtown Los Angeles on November 1, 2009. She was dressed up in full Day of the Dead makeup so I still don’t know what she looks like “in real life.” Like her anonymous tattooed man at the exhibit she talks about below, she is anonymous to me in that I could never point her out in a crowd – she was completely made up & indistinguishable like so many people there that celebratory evening. I was simply asking people, man-on-the-street style, what their greatest epiphany in life was. Instead of thinking I was completely insane, and blowing me off (then again, I wasn’t the one in a full skeleton/Day of the Dead get-up), she graciously answered with this very short but interesting epiphany. The people she wanted to know about their greatest epiphanies were Walt Disney and Jim Henson because she wants to hear from “the people who take imaginary creatures and put a soul behind them.” Interesting person. I’m going to do start doing random, man-on-the-street interviews more often…
The moment I think I probably had one of my greatest epiphanies was when I was in the Museum of Science visiting an exhibit where there were about 200 people who were dead that were somehow preserved and were presented as art. It escapes me what the name of this event was at this moment.
This exhibit had a great impact on me. All these bodies in this it were very anonymous. You didn’t know who they were, or what they did. But there was this one body with a tattoo. I have tattoos so I really started studying it and became fascinated with this one anonymous man’s tattoo. From the tattoo it was obvious that this man had served in the armed forces. Suddenly I had this thought, and it sort of shocked me, but I realized, “Wow, he just spoke to me.” Even after death, as this piece of artwork, he spoke to me through this tattoo, this art that he wore on his body. He said to me, “I am somebody. I was in the Army, and I did something. I believed in something. I did something with my life. I lived, I served.”
This man spoke to me from the dead, and I thought it was beautiful. That was for me, an epiphany. Someone can speak to me from the dead. I thought it was gorgeous that he spoke to me through time and through art – the art he had become and through his body art. I realized, when I get tattooed maybe someone will be communicated with, even after death, and they might see me, or see a part of me, and know that there is or was something that I loved. Maybe I will tell someone there’s something I did or how I feel or felt in that one image. I don’t know if that makes sense, but anyway, I have even more tattoos than I did then and find them very meaningful in a different, much deeper way now! I also realize just how important and powerful art can be – any kind of art – whether it be paintings, music, sculptures, preserved dead bodies or art on our bodies…art can reach across time and space to communicate and change us.