Tonantzin Society presents exhibit at Mulvane Art Museum

DEADLY INSPIRATION: As part of the Dia de los Muertos celebration, the Mulvane Art Museum presents the exhibition “Hermosos Huesos” (Beautiful Bones). The exhibit was partnered with the Tonantzin Society and displayed through different mixed media artworks by Wayne Hilton.

Cindy Rose

As part of its annual Dia de los Muertos celebration, the Mulvane Art Museum has partnered with the Tonantzin Society to present an exhibition featuring the mixed media artwork of Wayne Hilton on display now through Dec. 20.

Hilton’s work is inspired by the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and by a famous Mexican illustrator named Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913). It is a tribute to his death 100 years ago. Posada was a Mexican political printmaker and engraver. His work influenced many Latin American artists and cartoonists because of its satirical and social implications. His large body of work included over 20,000 illustrations over his lifetime.

“Posada was an artist in the arts and crafts movement,” said Hilton. “Skilled Artisans gained recognition for their craft and for the first time were recognized by Europe as significant artists during that time. That theme, artisanal, is significant in my work.”

Posada’s “Catrina” illustration from the Dia de los Muertos is his most Iconic image and Hilton said, “She is my muse.” The Mexican Day of the Dead festivities are dedicated to the goddess known as the “Lady of the Dead,” or La Calavera Catrina.

“My inspiration comes from all of his work, not just his skeletons,” said Hilton. “Posada’s majority of work was in response to written material like newspapers, he illustrated many things such as books and theatrical program covers. He was a commercial artist.”

Hilton said Posada is credited as being the father of Mexican modern art and he was a big influencer of Diego Rivera.

Indeed the Museum erected an ofrenda (alter) for artist Diego Rivera and his wife artist Frida Kahlo, for Dia de los Muertos wit candles and offerings to the departed painters. The ofrenda is at the entrance to the exhibit.

“It is exquisite,” said Janet Bailey, a Topeka resident and visitor of the exhibit. “The colors are so vivid, the way he puts together every square inch tells a story. The way all the colors blend together makes a statement with each figure.”

The show is an extensive and elaborately detailed exhibition featuring 13 distinctive works of art and a book. Each piece is an unusual, complexly decorated and ornately costumed calavera (skeleton). Hilton worked with recycled materials. It took him several years to create the 13 individual pieces. The beadwork for each piece took up to three months to complete.

Stop by the Mulvane Art Museum to view the full collection. The hours of the Museum and Gift Shop are Tuesday 10-7, Wednesday- Friday 10-5 and Saturday 1-4 p.m. Admission to the Museum is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit the website at www.