La Calavera Catrina

La Calavera Catrina ('Dapper Skeleton', 'Elegant Skull') or Catrina La Calavera Garbancera is a 1910–1913 zinc etching by the Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada.[1] She is offered as a satirical portrait of those Mexican natives who, Posada felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratic traditions in the pre-revolution era. La Catrina has become an icon of the Mexican Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

The zinc etching depicts a female skeleton dressed only in a hat, her chapeau en attende is related to European styles of the early 20th century. The original leaflet describes a person who was ashamed of their indigenous origins and dressed imitating the French style while wearing lots of makeup to make their skin look whiter.[2] This description also uses the word garbancera, a nickname given to people of indigenous ancestry who imitated European style and denied their own cultural heritage.[3][4]

Posada2.Catrina.jpeg
La Calavera Catrina
Calavera garbancera
Posada's La Calavera Garbancera in 1913

Cultural importance

"La Catrina has become the referential image of Death in Mexico, it is common to see her embodied as part of the celebrations of Day of the Dead throughout the country; she has become a motive for the creation of handcrafts made from clay or other materials, her representations may vary, as well as the hat." – J.G. Posada[3]

While the original work by Posada introduced the character, the popularity of La Calavera as well as her name is derived from a work by artist Diego Rivera in his 1947 completed mural Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday afternoon along Central Alameda).

Rivera's mural was painted between the years 1946 and 1947, and is the principal work of the "Museo Mural Diego Rivera" adjacent to the Alameda in the historic center of Mexico City. It measures 15 meters long and it stood at the end of Alameda Park. The mural survived the 1985 earthquake, which destroyed the hotel, and was later moved across the street to the Museo Mural Diego Rivera, built after the earthquake for the purpose of housing and displaying Rivera's restored mural.[5]

Artistic subtext

Image

Chapala181
Figures by Michoacan artisan Emilio Barocio Yacobo at the 2015 Feria de los Maestros del Arte in Chapala, Jalisco

Rivera's mural depicts a culmination of 400 years of Mexico's major figures, which include himself, Posada, and his wife Frida Kahlo. Rivera took inspiration from the original etching and gave Calavera a body as well as more of an identity in her elegant outfit as she is poised between himself and Posada. The intent seemed to be to show the tradition of welcoming and comfort the Mexicans have with death and especially the identity of a Lady of the Dead, harking back to the heritage of the Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl. As explained by curator David de la Torre from the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a Mexican-American museum and cultural center in Los Angeles, California, US, Catrina has come to symbolize not only Día de Muertos and the Mexican willingness to laugh at death itself, but originally Catrina was an elegant or well-dressed woman, so it refers to rich people,[5] de la Torre said. "Death brings this neutralizing force; everyone is equal in the end. Sometimes people have to be reminded of that."

Culture

The culture of La Calavera has ties to political satire and is also a well-kept tradition as the original was inspired by the polarizing reign of dictator Porfirio Díaz. Díaz is lauded for modernizing and bringing financial stability to Mexico, but he also led his government in repression, corruption, and excess, and had an apparent obsession with European materialism and culture. Christine Delsol writes: "Concentration of fantastic wealth in the hands of the privileged few brewed discontent in the hearts of the suffering many, leading to the 1910 rebellion that toppled Diaz in 1911 and became the Mexican Revolution."[5]

Social Classes

She also symbolizes the contrasts between the upper and lower classes, for times were cruel. The social classes were extremely segmented and the highest class was the most fortunate, enjoying many privileges; in contrast, the lower classes were nearly invisible. To explain and rescue the folklore of honoring the memory of those who have passed away, while showing this off to high society, José Guadalupe Posada made caricatures of Death, one of these drawings being the famous Calavera with an elegant hat, though only representing the head and bust with a sophisticated and skeletal essence.[3]

Links to Mesoamerica

Aztecs

The calavera's ties to the past heritage of the Aztecs can be seen in various ways. The indigenous culture of skulls and the death-goddess Mictecacihuatl is common in pre-Columbian art. Lady of the Dead, Mictecacihuatl, was keeper of the bones in the underworld, and she presided over the ancient month-long Aztec festivals honoring the dead. Since the pre-Columbian era, Mexican culture has maintained a certain reverence towards death,[6] which can be seen in the widespread commemoration of the Day of the Dead.[7] With Christian beliefs superimposed on the ancient rituals, those celebrations have evolved into today's Day of the Dead.[5]

Spain

As for the Spanish heritage (the death-orientation of the monastic orders, Dance of Death, and memento mori traditions), it blended with the average Mexican's stoic, but far from humorless, view of death.1 Some find La Catrina to have closer ties to the Dance of Death than to the possible origins of the calavera in the art of ancient Mesoamerica. La Calavera differs markedly from the rigid sobriety of skulls carved by the Aztec or images of decomposing corpses depicted by the ancient Maya. In prints and various other art forms associated with the Day of the Dead—everything from papier-mâché to papel picado (perforated paper) to sugar and chocolate—images of the calavera are unmistakably humorous. The skeletons, often dressed in finery, move playfully and smile widely. In some ways, these animated figures are much closer visually to the European Dance of Death motif in which limber skeletons lead, lure, or drag unwitting mortals to their ends.[8]

Mexico

Though these interpretations seem to ignore the full relationship that the Mexicans have with death, as well as the macabre humor that ties to the cycle of life, death and ceremony that the Aztecs had, it should be understood that few countries pay homage to death the way Mexico does; offerings, songs, respect and humor are all common Mexican expressions towards death.[9] The European ties are there both for comic effect as well as depicting the symbolic shell that Europe cloaked Mesoamerica in, but the native bones still lie within.

Folk art

Purist

La Calavera Catrina today can be found in her more traditional form both in drawn works as well as sculptures made out of Oaxacan wood carvings, papier-mâché sculptures, majolica pottery, and Barro negro black clay pottery. She is also coupled with male skeletons.

Costume

Dressing as a "Catrina" is a popular costume in Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Catrinas typically feature "sugar skull" make-up.[10]

Serie Catrinas (1)

Woman dressed as a Catrina

Niña Catrina (10)

Girl dressed as a Catrina

Serie Catrinas (9)

A Catrina

Serie rostros de calavera (23)

Three children dressed as Catrinas

Serie Catrinas (13)

Woman dressed as a Catrina

In popular culture

  • A character based on La Calavera appears as a protagonist in the 2014 computer-animated film The Book of Life, where she is named "La Muerte" and is the queen of the deceased who are remembered by the living. She is referred to in the Latin American Spanish dub as "La Catrina".[12] See footnote.
  • Two educational video series, La Calavera and La Calavera: El úlitmo secreto, were filmed in Mexico by Pearson Education, and include various program components.[13] Both videos integrate language proficiency with culture, and follow the journey of Jamie González as she searches for the secrets of her mysterious great-grandmother.[14]
  • In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, during the first and second days of November, a Day of the Dead Celebration is held among the largest Capital Cities of the game. Each city has a Calavera, represented as a dancing female undead NPC dressed in a mariachi outfit. If the player dances with her, his or her player character will also take the appearance of an undead character with a similar outfit.
  • In the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, creatures called Calaveras painlessly welcome into the afterlife those who cannot accept death.[15] They are similar in appearance to La Catrina, wearing a festive dress and carrying a bouquet of flowers.
  • The video game Need for Speed: Payback features a crew leader by the name of "La Catrina" as the leader of her crew "Graveyard shift" and one of the first bosses you encounter. Her motto says "When you ride a Hundred Miles an hour, Every decision is Life and Death".[16]

Gallery

Se te extraña

A Catrina inspired by María Félix as part of a ofrenda on the day of the dead festivities at San Ángel in November 2014

Selena Día de Muertos 2017

A Catrina inspired by Selena during celebrations of Day of the Dead at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles

The Kid - Diego Rivera

Center of Diego Rivera's wide mural Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central)

Catrinas 2

Modern representations of Catrina at the Museo de la Ciudad, León, Guanajuato, Mexico

Catrina hecha con aserrin pintado

Image done in colored sawdust for Día de Muertos

Detail of catrina face by Carlomagno Pedro Marti¦ünez

Detail of a Catrina figure in Barro negro pottery by artisan Carlomagno Pedro Martinez

La Catrina in China Poblana dress, by Rodofo Villena Hernandez in Puebla

See also

References

  1. ^ "Jose Guadalupe Posada, Calavera Catrina (Dapper Skeleton)". ArtofthePrint.com.
  2. ^ "La Catrina". Copal, Mexican Folk Art at its best Online. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  3. ^ a b c "La Catrina – The woman of Mexico". Rocky Point 360. 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  4. ^ "Catrina La Calavera Garbancera is the icon of Día de los Muertos". New York Latin Culture Magazine. 2018-09-25. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  5. ^ a b c d Delsol, Christine; SFGate, Special to (25 October 2011). "La Catrina: Mexico's grande dame of death". SFGate.
  6. ^ Araujo Peña, Sandra Alejandro; Barbosa Ramírez Marisela; Galván Falcón Susana; García Ortiz Aurea; Uribe Ordaz Carlos. "El culto a la Santa Muerte: un estudio descriptivo" [The cult of Santa Muerte:A descriptive study]. Revista Psichologia (in Spanish). Mexico City: Universidad de Londres. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  7. ^ Ramirez, Margaret. "'Saint Death' comes to Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  8. ^ "Art Through Time: A Global View - La Calavera de la Catrina". www.learner.org.
  9. ^ "Yahoo!". celebra.aollatino.com.
  10. ^ Devash, Meirav. "5 Things to Know Before Doing Dia de Los Muertos Makeup". Allure. Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  11. ^ "¡Del Corazón! / American Art". 2.americanart.si.edu.
  12. ^ "The Book of Life (2014 film), Trivia". IMDb.com. In the Spanish dubbing of the movie, La Muerte is called "La Catrina", this is obviously "Posada's Catrina" a popular iconic skeletal lady that has become associated with the festivities of the Día de Muertos. Her main attribute is a gorgeous hat. In the movie, the modern Mexican icon (La Catrina) and the classic icon (Lady Death), are fused in a single role as the ancient Mayan goddess of death, ruling over one of the lands of the dead.
  13. ^ "AP Honors and Electives Curriculums and Textbooks - Pearson". www.pearsonschool.com.
  14. ^ "AP Honors and Electives Curriculums and Textbooks - Pearson". www.pearsonschool.com.
  15. ^ Stephen., Radney-MacFarland,; K., Reynolds, Sean; Dennis., Baker,; Alexandur., Alexandrov,; Jason., Bulmahn,; Gary., Gygax,; 1947-2009., Arneson, Dave, (2013-01-01). Pathfinder roleplaying game : Bestiary 4. Paizo Pub. ISBN 9781601255754. OCLC 863052391.
  16. ^ Arts, Electronic (8 November 2017). "Graveyard Shift - Street Leagues - Need for Speed Payback". www.ea.com.

External links

Media related to La Calavera Catrina at Wikimedia Commons

Calaca

A calaca (Spanish pronunciation: [kaˈlaka], a colloquial Mexican Spanish name for skeleton) is a figure of a skull or skeleton (usually human) commonly used for decoration during the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, although they are made all year round.

Calavera

A calavera [plural: calaveras] (Spanish -pronounced [kalaˈβeɾa] for "skull") is a representation of a human skull. The term is most often applied to edible or decorative skulls made (usually by hand) from either sugar (called Alfeñiques) or clay which are used in the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) and the Roman Catholic holiday All Souls' Day. Calavera can also refer to any artistic representations of skulls, such as the lithographs of José Guadalupe Posada. The most widely known calaveras are created with cane sugar and are decorated with items such as colored foil, icing, beads, and feathers.Traditional methods for producing calaveras have been in use since the 1630s. The skulls are created either for children or as offerings to be placed on altars known as ofrendas for the Día de Muertos which has roots in the Aztec, Mayan, and Toltec cultural celebration of the Day of the Dead.The tradition of sugar skulls is for families to decorate their loved ones' ofrendas with both large and small handmade sugar skulls. Children who have died, represented by small sugar skulls, are celebrated on November 1. The larger sugar skulls represent the adults, whose celebration takes place on November 2. It is believed that the departed return home to enjoy the offering on the altar.In pre-Columbian times the images of skulls and skeletons were shown often in paintings, pottery, etc. representing rebirth into the next stage of life. During the 20th century a political caricaturist named José Guadalupe Posada became famous for making Calaveras as vain skeletons dressed in the clothing of the wealthy. The most famous one was Catrina, wearing a feathery hat, fancy shoes and a long dress. Catrina is considered to be the personification of The Day of the Dead. These skeletons are created from many materials such as wood, sugar paste varieties, types of nuts, chocolate, etc. When used as offerings, the name of the deceased is written across the forehead of the skull on colored foil.

Danse Macabre

The Danse Macabre (from the French language), also called the Dance of Death, is an artistic genre of allegory of the Late Middle Ages on the universality of death: no matter one's station in life, the Dance Macabre unites all.

The Danse Macabre consists of the dead or a personification of death summoning representatives from all walks of life to dance along to the grave, typically with a pope, emperor, king, child, and laborer. It was produced as memento mori, to remind people of the fragility of their lives and how vain were the glories of earthly life. Its origins are postulated from illustrated sermon texts; the earliest recorded visual scheme was a now-lost mural at Holy Innocents' Cemetery in Paris dating from 1424 to 1425.

Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and helping support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Mexicans view it not as a day of sadness but as a day of celebration because their loved ones awake and celebrate with them. In 2008, the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.The holiday is sometimes called Día de los Muertos in Anglophone countries, a back-translation of its original name, Día de Muertos. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a public holiday. Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. Gradually, it was associated with October 31, November 1, and November 2 to coincide with the Western Christian triduum of Allhallowtide: All Saints' Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using calaveras, aztec marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. It has become a national symbol and as such is taught (for educational purposes) in the nation's schools. Many families celebrate a traditional "All Saints' Day" associated with the Catholic Church.

Originally, the Day of the Dead as such was not celebrated in northern Mexico, where it was unknown until the 20th century because its indigenous people had different traditions. The people and the church rejected it as a day related to syncretizing pagan elements with Catholic Christianity. They held the traditional 'All Saints' Day' in the same way as other Christians in the world. There was limited Mesoamerican influence in this region, and relatively few indigenous inhabitants from the regions of Southern Mexico, where the holiday was celebrated. In the early 21st century in northern Mexico, Día de Muertos is observed because the Mexican government made it a national holiday based on educational policies from the 1960s; it has introduced this holiday as a unifying national tradition based on indigenous traditions.

Death (personification)

Death, due to its prominent place in human culture, is frequently imagined as a personified force, also known as the Grim Reaper. In some mythologies, the Grim Reaper causes the victim's death by coming to collect that person. In turn, people in some stories try to hold on to life by avoiding Death's visit, or by fending Death off with bribery or tricks. Other beliefs hold that the Spectre of Death is only a psychopomp, serving to sever the last ties between the soul and the body, and to guide the deceased to the afterlife, without having any control over when or how the victim dies. Death is most often personified in male form, although in certain cultures Death is perceived as female (for instance, Marzanna in Slavic mythology, Dhumavati in Hinduism, or La Catrina in Mexico).

Diego Rivera

Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez, known as Diego Rivera (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈdjeɣo riˈβeɾa]; December 8, 1886 – November 24, 1957) was a prominent Mexican painter. His large frescoes helped establish the Mexican mural movement in Mexican art. Between 1922 and 1953, Rivera painted murals in, among other places, Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and New York City. In 1931, a retrospective exhibition of his works was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Rivera had a volatile marriage with fellow Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

José Guadalupe Posada

José Guadalupe Posada (February 2, 1852 – January 20, 1913) was a Mexican political printmaker and engraver whose work has influenced many Latin American artists and cartoonists because of its satirical acuteness and social engagement. He used skulls, calaveras, and bones to make political and cultural critiques. Among his famous works was La Catrina.

Latin American art

Latin American art is the combined artistic expression of South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, as well as Latin Americans living in other regions.

The art has roots in the many different indigenous cultures that inhabited the Americas before European colonization in the 16th century. The indigenous cultures each developed sophisticated artistic disciplines, which were highly influenced by religious and spiritual concerns. Their work is collectively known and referred to as Pre-columbian art. The blending of Native American, African and European cultures has resulted in a unique mestizo tradition.

Memento mori

Memento mori (Latin: "remember (that) you will die") is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. It is related to the ars moriendi ("The Art of Dying") and similar Western literature. Memento mori has been an important part of ascetic disciplines as a means of perfecting the character by cultivating detachment and other virtues, and by turning the attention towards the immortality of the soul and the afterlife.In art, memento mori are artistic or symbolic reminders of mortality. In the European Christian art context, "the expression [...] developed with the growth of Christianity, which emphasized Heaven, Hell, and salvation of the soul in the afterlife".

Mexican Revolution

The Mexican Revolution (Spanish: Revolución mexicana), also known as the Mexican Civil War (Spanish: guerra civil mexicana), was a major armed struggle, lasting roughly from 1910 to 1920, that radically transformed Mexican culture and government. Although recent research has focused on local and regional aspects of the Revolution, it was a genuinely national revolution. Its outbreak in 1910 resulted from the failure of the 35-year-long regime of Porfirio Díaz to find a managed solution to the presidential succession. This meant there was a political crisis among competing elites and the opportunity for agrarian insurrection. Wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero challenged Díaz in the 1910 presidential election, and following the rigged results, revolted under the Plan of San Luis Potosí. Armed conflict ousted Díaz from power; a new election was held in 1911, bringing Madero to the presidency.

The origins of the conflict were broadly based in opposition to the Díaz regime, with the 1910 election becoming the catalyst for the outbreak of political rebellion. The revolution was begun by elements of the Mexican elite hostile to Díaz, led by Madero and Pancho Villa; it expanded to the middle class, the peasantry in some regions, and organized labor. In October 1911, Madero was overwhelmingly elected in a free and fair election. Opposition to his regime then grew from both the conservatives, who saw him as too weak and too liberal, and from former revolutionary fighters and the dispossessed, who saw him as too conservative.

Madero and his vice president Pino Suárez were forced to resign in February 1913, and were assassinated. The counter-revolutionary regime of General Victoriano Huerta came to power, backed by business interests and other supporters of the old order. Huerta remained in power from February 1913 until July 1914, when he was forced out by a coalition of different regional revolutionary forces. When the revolutionaries' attempt to reach political agreement failed, Mexico plunged into a civil war (1914–1915). The Constitutionalist faction under wealthy landowner Venustiano Carranza emerged as the victor in 1915, defeating the revolutionary forces of former Constitutionalist Pancho Villa and forcing revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata back to guerrilla warfare. Zapata was assassinated in 1919 by agents of President Carranza.

The armed conflict lasted for the better part of a decade, until around 1920, and had several distinct phases. Over time the Revolution changed from a revolt against the established order under Díaz to a multi-sided civil war in particular regions, with frequently shifting power struggles among factions in the Mexican Revolution. One major result of the revolution was the dissolution of the Federal Army in 1914, which Francisco Madero had kept intact when he was elected in 1911 and General Huerta used to oust Madero. Revolutionary forces unified against Huerta's reactionary regime defeated the Federal forces. Although the conflict was primarily a civil war, foreign powers that had important economic and strategic interests in Mexico figured in the outcome of Mexico's power struggles. The United States played an especially significant role. Out of Mexico's population of 15 million, the losses were high, but numerical estimates vary a great deal. Perhaps 1.5 million people died; nearly 200,000 refugees fled abroad, especially to the United States.Many scholars consider the promulgation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 as the end point of the armed conflict. "Economic and social conditions improved in accordance with revolutionary policies, so that the new society took shape within a framework of official revolutionary institutions", with the constitution providing that framework. The period 1920–1940 is often considered to be a phase of the Revolution, as government power was consolidated, the Catholic clergy and institutions were attacked in the 1920s, and the revolutionary constitution of 1917 was implemented.This armed conflict is often characterized as the most important sociopolitical event in Mexico and one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century; it resulted in an important program of experimentation and reform in social organization. The revolution committed the resulting political regime with "social justice", until Mexico underwent an economic liberal reform process that started in the 1980s.

Palm Sunday Handcraft Market

The Palm Sunday Handcraft Market (Tianguis de Domingo de Ramos), held in Uruapan, is the largest event in the Mexican state of Michoacán dedicated to the sale of the state’s traditional handcrafts and is reputed to be the largest of its kind in Latin America. The event draws over 1,300 artisans who offer over a million pieces for sale, which represent all of the state’s major handcraft traditions. It also includes other events such as a handcraft competition, exhibition of indigenous dress, food and other traditions, concerts, dance and more. The event is centered on the very large main plaza of the city of Uruapan, but extends over to adjoining streets and to other plazas in the city.

Pottery of Metepec

The pottery of Metepec is that of a municipality in central Mexico, located near Mexico City. It is noted for durable utilitarian items but more noted for its decorative and ritual items, especially sculptures called “trees of life,” decorative plaques in sun and moon shapes and mermaid like figures called Tlanchanas. Metepec potters such as the Soteno family have won national and international recognition for their work and the town hosts the annual Concurso Nacional de Alfarería y Cerámica.

Skeleton (undead)

A skeleton is a type of physically manifested undead often found in fantasy, gothic and horror fiction, and mythical art. Most are human skeletons, but they can also be from any creature or race found on Earth or in the fantasy world.

Skull art

Indigenous Mexican art celebrates the skeleton and uses it as a regular motif. The use of skulls and skeletons in art originated before the Conquest: The Aztecs excelled in stone sculptures and created striking carvings of their Gods. Coatlicue, the Goddess of earth and death, was portrayed with a necklace of human hearts, hands and a skull pendant. She was imbued with the drama and grandeur necessary to dazzle the subject people and to convey the image of an implacable state. The worship of death involved worship of life, while the skull – symbol of death – was a promise to resurrection. The Aztecs carved skulls in monoliths of lava, and made masks of obsidian and jade. Furthermore, the skull motif was used in decoration. They were molded on pots, traced on scrolls, woven into garments, and formalized into hieroglyphs.

Skull mexican make-up

A skull Mexican makeup, sugar skull makeup or calavera, is a makeup that is used to assist in creating the appearance of the character La Calavera Catrina that people use during Day of the Dead (Mexican Día de Muertos) and Halloween festivities.

Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central

Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central or Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central is a mural created by Diego Rivera. It was painted between the years 1946 and 1947, and is the principal work of the Museo Mural Diego Rivera adjacent to the Alameda in the historic center of Mexico City.

United States Academic Decathlon

The Academic Decathlon (also called AcDec, AcaDeca or AcaDec) is the only annual high school academic competition organized by the non-profit United States Academic Decathlon (USAD). The competition consists of seven objective multiple choice tests, two subjective performance events, and an essay. Academic Decathlon was created by Robert Peterson in 1968 for local schools in Orange County, California and was expanded nationally in 1981 by Robert Peterson, William Patton, first President of the new USAD Board; and Phillip Bardos, Chairman of the new USAD Board. That year, 17 states and the District of Columbia participated, a number that has grown to include most of the United States and some international schools. Patton and Bardos served on the board in these two executive positions for the first 10 years of the USAD and not only personally contributed significantly both financially and in personal effort to the organization in those early day when there were no corporate sponsors they, along with Robert Peterson, were the major three factors in bringing corporate sponsors to the program during these challenging growth years eventually resulting in a financially self sustaining organization. In 2015 Academic Decathlon held its first ever International competition in Shanghai, China. Once known as United States Academic Decathlon, on March 1, 2013, it began operating as the Academic Decathlon.

Academic Decathlon is designed to include students from all achievement levels. Teams generally consist of nine members, who are divided into three divisions based on a custom calculated grade point average: Honors (3.75–4.00 GPA), Scholastic (3.00–3.74 GPA), and Varsity (0.00–2.99 GPA). Each team member competes in all ten events against other students in his or her division, and team scores are calculated using the top two overall individual scores from each team in all three divisions. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded for individual events and for overall scores. To earn a spot at the national competition in April, teams must advance through local, regional, and state competitions, though some levels of competition may be bypassed for smaller states. Online competitions, separated into small, medium, and large categories, are also offered. USAD has expanded to include an International Academic Decathlon and has created an Academic Pentathlon for middle schools.

The ten events require knowledge in art, economics, language and literature, math, music, science and social science. These topics, with the exception of math, are thematically linked each year. One of the multiple choice events, alternating between science and social science, is chosen for the Super Quiz. In addition to the seven objective events, there are three subjective events graded by judges: essay, interview and speech.

Over the years, there have been various small controversies, the most infamous being the scandal involving the Steinmetz High School team, which was caught cheating at the 1995 Illinois state finals. This event was later dramatized in the 2000 film Cheaters. Academic Decathlon has been criticized by educators for the amount of time it requires students to spend on the material, as it constitutes an entire curriculum beyond the one provided by the school. Around the turn of the millennium, several coaches protested the USAD's decision to publish error-ridden Resource Guides rather than provide topics for students to research.

Woodcut

Woodcut is a relief printing technique in printmaking. An artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood—typically with gouges—leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts. Areas that the artist cuts away carry no ink, while characters or images at surface level carry the ink to produce the print. The block is cut along the wood grain (unlike wood engraving, where the block is cut in the end-grain). The surface is covered with ink by rolling over the surface with an ink-covered roller (brayer), leaving ink upon the flat surface but not in the non-printing areas.

Multiple colors can be printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblocks (using a different block for each color). The art of carving the woodcut can be called "xylography", but this is rarely used in English for images alone, although that and "xylographic" are used in connection with block books, which are small books containing text and images in the same block. They became popular in Europe during the latter half of the 15th century. A single-sheet woodcut is a woodcut presented as a single image or print, as opposed to a book illustration.

Since its origins in China, the practice of woodcut has spread across the world from Europe to other parts of Asia, and to Latin America.

Xochimilco

Xochimilco (Spanish pronunciation: [sotʃiˈmilko, ʃotʃiˈmilko]; Nahuatl languages: Xōchimīlco, pronounced [ʃoːtʃiˈmiːlko] listen ) is one of the 16 mayoralities (Spanish: alcaldías) or boroughs within Mexico City. The borough is centered on the formerly independent city of Xochimilco, which was established on what was the southern shore of Lake Xochimilco in the pre-Hispanic period. Today, the borough consists of the eighteen “barrios” or neighborhoods of this city along with fourteen “pueblos” or villages that surround it, covering an area of 125 km2 (48 sq mi). The borough is in the southeastern part of the city and has an identity that is separate from the historic center of Mexico City, due to its historic separation from that city during most of its history. Xochimilco is best known for its canals, which are left from what was an extensive lake and canal system that connected most of the settlements of the Valley of Mexico. These canals, along with artificial islands called chinampas, attract tourists and other city residents to ride on colorful gondola-like boats called “trajineras” around the 170 km (110 mi) of canals. This canal and chinampa system, as a vestige of the area's pre-Hispanic past, has made Xochimilco a World Heritage Site. In 1950, Paramahansa Yogananda in his Autobiography of a Yogi wrote that if there were a scenic beauty contest, Xochimilco would get the first prize. However, severe environmental degradation of the canals and chinampas has brought that status into question.

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