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Reinventing the Death Shroud

By Linda Laino

Here in México, locals and foreigners alike begin the month of November by celebrating and honoring death in the colorful, festive, and sometimes macabre manner long associated with Dia de Los Muertos. Local artist Marti McGinnis has taken advantage of this season to introduce her newest work, in an exhibit entitled Shrouds Reconsidered at La Huipilista Artspace in colonia Guadalupe.

This show required the artist, known locally for her whimsical, colorful paintings, to explore different materials and a decidedly different theme. Since La Huipilista specializes in textile work, McGinnis decided to create a series of fabric shrouds.

Simply put, a shroud is a covering, usually a garment associated with burial. Throughout history and different cultures, this type of garment was made in different incarnations. In ancient Egypt, they used simple muslin or gauze. In modern times, it’s about choosing just the right garment in which to send loved ones off from this world.

Cloth generates meaning across time and cultures in many different ways. From the Shroud of Turin to the practice of swaddling babies in tight fabrics, cloth is a material that veers wildly in usage from the everyday to special use in costumes or garments made for rituals both sacred and secular.

Despite many years of creating with paint and canvas for display on walls, making these garments has been in some ways a return to McGinnis’s roots, as she spent many years designing wearables with paint and cloth. She has also made hats and clothing from hand-felted wool. Even though she had experience working with garments in the past, this project was a foray into a different concept for McGinnis. “I am mindful that each shroud is meant to enfold a body or its remains and help guide it onward toward whatever is next, both in physical form through cremation or burial as well as the spiritual, accompanying the soul to the next realm.” She believes in a direct correlation between death and dreams and cites aboriginal Dreamtime paintings and the magical realism of Marc Chagall as inspirations for this series.

McGinnis hopes that the shrouds will open a dialogue about death, particularly among people for whom death has been a taboo subject. In conjunction with the exhibit, La Huipilista Artspace will host a panel discussion and sharing salons that will address the practical and spiritual aspects of death and transformation, of moving from one realm to the next.

Shrouds Reconsidered continues through December 2.


Art Opening

Work by Marti McGuinness

Fri, Nov 9, 5–7pm

La Huipilista Artspace, Julián Carrillo 1


Lena Bartula, 415 111 3039




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