News
One of the alebrijes at the Rockefeller Center in New York City. One of the alebrijes at the Rockefeller Center in New York City.

Display of alebrijes celebrates Day of the Dead, Oaxaca culture in New York City

A dragon and a jaguar adorn the center plaza of the Rockefeller Center

Two large Mexican folk art sculptures known as alebrijes have been installed in New York City as part of a 12-day celebration of the Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) and a month-long promotion of Oaxaca in the United States.

One dragon and one feathered jaguar measuring more than three and four meters high, respectively, currently adorn the center plaza of the Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan.

Made by Oaxacan artisans Jacobo and María Angeles, the colorful and fantastical sculptures are a drawcard of “Mexico Week: Día de Muertos at Rockefeller Center,” a free event that began last Friday and runs through November 2.

Two catrinas, female skeleton figures commonly associated with the Day of the Dead, are also on display at the famous New York City landmark. The center plaza’s statue of the Greek titan Atlas will be converted into a floral installation later this week, and a Day of the Dead ofrenda, or altar, honoring victims of COVID-19 will be set up.

In addition, an open-air market, or tianguis, selling Mexican handicrafts, food and beverages will run from Friday until next Wednesday.

Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat was in New York last Friday to attend the inauguration of the Day of the Dead festival and launch “Oaxaca Month in the United States,” an event that celebrates the art, culture and traditions of the southern state.

“… Oaxaca has an objective that we like to summarize in one sentence: we want more of Oaxaca in the world and more of the world in Oaxaca. Being here at the Rockefeller Center in New York, unveiling these alebrijes and beginning this festival of economic and cultural promotion, we know that we’re achieving that objective,” he said.

“In Oaxaca everything’s done with the soul because, in our land, spirits dance, paint, cook and write,” the governor said.

Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Esteban Moctezuma, spoke of the great natural and cultural beauty of Oaxaca, while Rockefeller Center managing director EB Kelly thanked the government of Oaxaca and the Mexican Consulate in New York for making the Day of the Dead event possible.

With reports from El Economista and Hyperallergic  

Reader forum

The forum is available to logged-in subscribers only.