It took years for Toby Morfin to find the perfect space for his annual Día de Los Muertos art exhibit.
The event has grown from being held in his home to being displayed at the Poeh Cultural Center, north of Santa Fe.
“I’ve been curating it for 10 years,” he says. “This year, we have more than 30 artists. It all started with getting some of my Spanish Market friends to participate. One year, 300 people showed up to my house to see the exhibit. We then moved it up to Northern (New Mexico) College in Española before finding a great home this year. I got lucky with the space.”
Morfin curated the exhibit to showcase Hispanic and Native American artists, as well as young and emerging artists.
“The reason I started the show was to showcase some local young and upcoming artists, mainly to give back and remember the ones we have lost in our families, and to bring back the festival into New Mexico culture,” Morfin says.
Cara Romero is a photographer who picked up some awards at this year’s Indian Market.
She is participating in the exhibit and enjoys how the exhibit celebrates the intercultural connections of peoples in the Southwest.
“Many of us (Natives from the Southwest) have grandparents that were listed as Mexican citizens. Many of our tribal languages from north and south of the border are the same,” Romero says. “The songs, the art, the dependence on the very same lands and waters. Our parrot bundles come from there. Our shells and the shared culture of Día de los Muertos reminds us that we were once the same peoples.”
Albuquerque artist Jason Borrego is also participating.
His acrylic-on-canvas piece “Longinus,” has a long story.
“(Longinus) was a blind Roman Centurion who thrust the spear into Christ’s side at the crucifixion. Some of Jesus’ blood fell upon his blind eye from an old battle wound, and it was healed,” Borrego says. “The three suns above represent the three days he watched over Jesus when he died. Later, Pontius Pilate had Longinus beheaded for his desertion and change of heart. This piece also represents the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. My intention was not for this to be a religious piece, but a representation of life and death.”
Morfin has his oil-on-canvas piece “Rosas de Los Muertos,” which is a skull with roses.
“I work in every medium,” Morfin says. “I did a 3-D piece as well. I’m a painter primarily, but I’m also a collector an art advocate. I’ve been working to get a lot of artists exposure. This exhibit has grown into something really great and family-friendly. It’s a space where life and death can be celebrated.”
Other artists participating include Vince Campos, Dio Dominguez, Matthew Duran, Joshua I. Gallegos, Elizabeth Talavera, Rachael Montoya, Joseph A. Lopez, Sophia E. Rodriquez, Gabriel Edwards, Andrew Montoya, Cody Sanderson, Michael E. Martinez, Janet M. Rodriquez, Gene Ortega, Gabriel Duran, Miranda Lopez, Jim Vogel, Albert Zalma, Sage Vogel, Robb Rael, Cruz Lopez, Kaitlyn Ortiz, Leroy Garcia, Sean Wells, Shane Casias, Isaac C. Ortiz and Mateo Romero.
Morfin is also looking forward to having visitors see a piece of pottery from Erik Fender.
“Erik incorporated what he does with Day of the Dead,” he says. “It’s a stunning piece.”