Best of Week Day of the Dead Photographs: Connie Jo

At her core Connie is an archeologist though these days she is an assistant dean at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Her passion is Mexican archeological sites.  She participated in digs in Cholula, just a few miles outside the city of Puebla and has visited Mexico’s major archeological sites.  Did I say Connie loves Mexico?  We found ourselves following Connie around at Monte Alban, Mitla and Yagul.  We didn’t get to Dainzu, so I know Connie will be back to Oaxaca.

Photo 1:  Connie and her friend and travel mate Kathy Heath spent Day of the Dead in Teotitlan del Valle on November 2 with the family of Tito (Erasto) Mendoza, his wife Alejandrina, daughter Liliana, and son Santiago.  Connie took this family portrait outside their hand-built, traditional adobe casita in the foothills.

“I learned quite a lot about photography, including how to translate the settings to my digital camera from my old SLR film camera,” Connie says.

 

Photo 3 (left): Dressed in the style of women from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, this little one is a Tehuana-wanna-be.  Enlarge the photo to see the red glow of her headband.  Photo 4 (right): Warm colors of Oaxaca under the glow of a street lamp, subtle, powerful, soothing.

“I never had any concerns about safety, even when out walking alone.  People on the street were friendly and helpful,” Connie adds.

Photo 5:  We all loved this photo because it captures the energy of Oaxaca’s main walking street Macedonio Alcala which connects Santo Domingo church to the Zocalo.  The focal point of the man with the white shirt tells us this street is for everyone — visitors and locals, shoppers and vendors, workers and vacationers.

 

Photo 6 (left) details a Day of the Dead altar, complete with the four levels of ascending and descending to earth, pan de muerto, candles, candy skulls, papel picado — colorful cut out tissue paper in fanciful DOTD designs.  Photo 7 (right) is a marvelous detail of scented day lilies at a gravesite.  The aroma is strong, sure to guide the spirits.

Connie says, “Visiting the Xoxocotlan panteons (old and new cemeteries) was outstanding, despite the rain!  It was an experience for all the senses. The decorations and attention to the memory of the ancestors was unlike anything else I’ve experienced.”

   

Photos 7, 8, 9:  These scenes at the Xoxocotlan cemetery reflect Connie’s sensitivity to people and her sense of humor.  The photo on the upper right is serious and somber with mother holding a child and sitting vigil by gravesite.  It is a lovely snapshot about the seriousness by which Oaxacaquenos reflect upon and observe Day of the Dead.  The large photo candidly combines the traditional with the contemporary as the young woman sits vigil while she is texting on her hand-held device, the light from the screen reflecting on her face.

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