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Cultural Connections

It was a gorgeous fall day on Oct. 19 when Ms. Sonia Breaux, one of our Spanish teachers, led her Spanish IV and AP Spanish IV students from the 609 over to Discovery Green. The reason for the trip? There was an art installation she wanted her students to see.

Celebración de Vida by MEXICRÁNEOS, on view in the park through Nov. 7, features 10 seven-foot skulls, each elaborately painted by a different Mexican artist. The individual pieces each showcase a different segment of Mexican culture or heritage. This is the first time these works have been seen in the U.S., and having a campus so close to Discovery Green allows our students to experience them.

"The decoration of the skulls is a tradition for Dia de los Muertos, along with parades and masses," explained Ms. Breaux. "It is a pre-Hispanic tradition that, later with the colonization of the Spaniards, evolved to mix the Aztec culture with the Catholic religion."

Since an essential part of learning a foreign language is also learning about its culture, Breaux felt the expedition was a great way to augment classroom lessons. During the outing, students earned how to identify symbols on the sculptures, including the cempasuchitl (marigolds) and las calacas, la Catrina (the skull and queen of the Aztec underworld, both common and recognizable Dia de los Muertos icons) and Xoloitzcuintli (an endemic and ancient dog breed). 

The students took photos to identify each piece of art.

"They then had a writing  assignment to reflect on their own lives and to make cultural connections," said Breaux.

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