HHS students learn Mexican tradition of sugar skull painting

In honor of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, local muralist and sugar skull artist Jane Madrigal visited Harlandale High School on Nov. 1.

Senior and junior students studying Spanish and Mexican American studies made their way to the school’s library where they learned more about the Mexican tradition, including the art of decorating a sugar skull.

“The sugar skulls are traditional objects in the Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, altar,” Madrigal said. “The idea is to create a sugar skull in honor of a dead ancestor for Day of the Dead, which is a traditional holiday that connects us to our ancestors and has an ancient tradition based in our indigenous culture.”

During her presentation, Madrigal showed a video of how the holiday is celebrated in Oaxaca, Mexico.  The students got to see the real intricate designs that people put together for their departed loved ones with beautiful flowers and celebrations throughout the day.

“It connects us to our past,” Madrigal continued. “It’s not just dressing up and having a party, but actually dressing up and having a party in memory of departed loved ones. It’s a celebration of life, honoring the ones before us, and hopefully in the future, once we past, it will be something that they pass on to their children.”

Madrigal brought the sugar skulls, which she made herself, ready to be decorated by the students.

“You have to decorate with real icing since they are made of sugar,” she explained. “I also brought a little bit of beads and a little bit of glittered glue so that they can be real festive and beautiful.”

The students let their creativity run wild utilizing every color and bead to decorate their sugar skull, which they all got to take home.

“It was a new experience for me,” senior Adrienne Bolado said. “I’m glad we got to learn more about this tradition and how to decorate these sugar skulls.”

HHS students learn Mexican tradition of sugar skull painting


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