Behind the Scenes at the DAM

Culture, Creativity & Artes Populares with Oscar Becerra Mora, Visiting Artist from Mexico City

This month, we at the DAM and the Mexican Cultural Center are pleased to host Oscar Becerra Mora who is visiting from la gran ciudad, Mexico City to work with us for CelebrARTE this month. It is not every day that we have the opportunity to work with an artist for two weeks, so I wanted to take some time to talk with him about his inspiration, art, and what he thinks about creativity in the popular art of Mexico. 

Maestro Becerra had never visited the United States before, and immediately spoke of his excitement that his first visit allowed him to share the popular arts of Mexico with Denver. At home Sr. Becerra works as a partner-artist at Museo de Arte Popular and regularly hosts workshops about the cartonería or papier mâché art of Mexico. These may include piñatas, calacas for Día de los Muertos, toys, or the alebríjes of all sizes, which he is bringing to Denver and CelebrARTE. 

As Sr. Becerra says in the video below (en español), the art of cartonería allows for play and creative license making the styles and forms relevant today, although many of these art forms have been around for generations. Many of these arts are used in everyday life, so it is easy to incorporate images we recognize today. For example, he enjoys turning the traditional lupita dolls into famous luchadores or masked wrestlers. In this way, traditional art forms are not lost, but are given new life. In walking through Nick Cave: Sojourn, he recognized an artist using the same process–taking objects from everyday life (buttons, toys, rugs) and making them into something new. 

What is the most important thing we should be learning about his art work? It is the continued adaptation, play, and fantasy we find in Mexico’s popular arts, like alebríjes. With our imagination, there is no limit to our creativity. We can find inspiration anywhere.  Sr. Becerra has even been inspired by his visit to the Denver and the DAM, as we shall see when we elaborate on the art of alebríje during CelebrARTE!

 

Madalena Salazar is the Latino cultural programs coordinator in the education department at the Denver Art Museum. Madalena has been at the DAM since 2011 and her favorite artwork that has been on view here is Mud Woman Rolls On. This piece reminds her of home, family, and community and serves as inspiration for her practice as a museum educator at the DAM.