To mark the 2014 observance of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), I have created a suite of twenty monoprints based upon an ancient Aztec glyph representing death. Essentially a printed painting, no two images are alike. The images were painted directly on a sheet of glass in oil paint, and burnished with a wooden spoon; each color was “pulled” separately.
Working with cadmium yellows, oranges, and reds, I printed starting with the lightest warm colors and worked-up to the darker hues like vermillion and rose madder. I added contrasting cool colors – cinnabar green, emerald green and cerulean blue – with a final dark purple pulling all the colors together and giving form to the calaca (skull) glyph. When buying these monoprints, remember that each stand-alone print is unique, and that I cannot guarantee that your purchase will have anything more than a general likeness to those displayed here. However, I curated the prints and found each one suitable for inclusion in the suite. Each print is hand-signed with the artist’s signature, date, and the title of the print – Ayotzinapa: Faltan 43.
And what is the meaning behind the title of the print?
43 male members of the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero disappeared on Sept. 26, 2014 after being kidnapped by the police. The cops handed their prisoners to members of the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, who allegedly murdered them. Since then the people of Mexico have held protests and other activities to place the blame on the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto and his allies in Washington, D.C. While dozens of suspects have been arrested, not one has been charged with any crime, likewise, not a single member of the 43 male students has been found. Other mass graves have been discovered in the area, some 12 large graves, but the students were not found in them. Since 2007, some 100,000 civilians have perished in the so-called “drug war.”
Banners, flyers, street art, and graffiti have appeared across the country, some reading Todos Somos Ayotzinapa (We Are All Ayotzinapa), Fue El Estado (It was the state), and Vivos Los Llevaron, Vivos Los Queremos! (They were taken away alive, we want them back alive!). The popular slogan Ayotzinapa: Faltan 43, is the title of my monotype series. It simply means, “Ayotzinapa, 43 are missing.”
With my Ayotzinapa print I mean to bring attention to the current situation in Mexico; the corruption and collusion of government forces like the courts, ruing elites, and the police and army with the criminal drug gangs that run large areas of the nation; the U.S. government arming and training Mexican security forces as well as the drug gangs, and the Mexican democratic masses themselves, who protest at every opportunity against the depravity of the Mexican state. On October 29, 2014, President Nieto met with relatives of the missing students, promising that they would be found, but the relatives were not impressed.
Ayotzinapa: Faltan 43 represents a new period of print experimentation for me, and in the months to come a number of new monotype prints will appear on this web log.
So on this Día de los Muertos, remain vigilant and do not forget… in Ayotzinapa, 43 are missing.
$100. Ayotzinapa: Faltan 43 – Mark Vallen. Monoprint. 6 x 8 inches. 2014.
Purchase your print here.