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This New Westminster art exhibition celebrates Mexican culture

Celebrate the Day of the Dead and Mexican dancing in new shows opening Tuesday.

A New Westminster art gallery is showcasing Mexican culture with a pair of related exhibitions.

The Amelia Douglas Gallery at Douglas College, in collaboration with the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver, presents The Heart’s Rhythm, by Mauricio Silerio, and Color Calavera, by Adrián Edgar, opening Tuesday, Sept. 12.

The exhibition will launch with an opening reception starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by an artist’s talk at 7 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre, Room N2201. The artist’s talk will open with speeches from the Mexican Consulate General and Edgar, as well as a video from Silerio discussing his art.

Silerio's photography collection captures the energetic beat of traditional Mexican dancing, as a gallery press release notes, with dazzling headdresses, bright costumes and intricate face paint that bring movement and lightheartedness to the still images.

“Through my artwork, I try to tell the stories hidden behind the dances,” Silerio said in the press release. “The colour and expression of these dances helps to communicate ancestral knowledge from generation to generation.”

Edgar's Color Calavera is a collection of paintings inspired by Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday that celebrates and honours the souls of deceased relatives. The most prominent symbols reflected in Day of the Dead celebrations are calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls).

While Edgar uses expressionless skulls as the foundation of his paintings, the press release notes, he breathes life into them through his vibrant use of colour. Much like Day of the Dead, Color Calavera highlights the beauty of all aspects of life.

“In other countries, death is often seen as a taboo subject, but in Mexico we make songs, poems, jokes and art out if it,” says Edgar. “When Mexicans talk about death, we are really talking about life, the value of appreciating every moment and the importance of having a positive attitude through difficult situations.”

The Amelia Douglas Gallery, the Douglas College modern languages department and the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver have come together to showcase artists that stand for the celebration and education of different cultures.

“As a gallery, we endeavour to host artists who speak to the cultural diversity of our student base and community,” says Jacci Wintermans, arts events officer at Douglas College, in the release. “As an institution that is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, showcasing exhibits like this is an integral part of fostering an understanding and open-minded campus environment."

The exhibit runs until Nov. 2 and will also be available for viewing during the 20th annual New West Culture Crawl, set for Oct. 15 and 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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