It was late 2008 when a good friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Six month later, he was gone. During that difficult time, he taught me a lot about life and death. It's a lesson than changed me forever. One thing I learned from that experience was that in American culture, most of us are woefully ill-equipped to deal with death, especially when it occurs to someone we know. We rarely speak of death and of the process of dying. Some cultures have deep rooted traditions for dealing with death, both before, during and after. The Hebrew tradition has ways of dealing with the difficult process of mourning. In Mexico, they have a tradition called Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This holiday serves as a time to not only remember loved ones passed, but to celebrate them.
Living in a U.S./Mexican border city, and being married to a Mexican latina, I've seen up close the clash of these two cultures. The heated immigration debate, racial profiling, discrimination, the effects of death, poverty, and a broken U.S. immigration policy. I've watched as the cities of San Diego and Tijuana, so close in proximity but so far apart in equality, have failed miserably to cross the chasm that 20 foot wall thwarts, every day.
With this as my backdrop, I began painting album covers with Dia de los Muertos imagery. Dead musicians that for me, represent Americana, Dia de los Muertified. It's a celebration of both good life and death, of remembering. And of a hope that we can find a way to bridge the deep cultural divide the exists between our two cultures, and between life and death.