In most cultures around the world, death is something to be feared.
Very few people like being reminded that their lives are finite things that will be blown away like so many dried up leaves. Even if they aren’t afraid of death, it isn’t something they bring up in polite conversation. But not so in Mexico. There, they set aside one day every year to celebrate the necessary end of all of our lives. Called the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), it’s a time when family members salute those who have passed on by making offerings of food and calavera, beautifully decorated sugar skulls that they place on altars in their homes. They are beautifully decorated and their vibrant colors and sweet taste belie their mortal origins.
Inspired by this tradition, San Francisco artist Jonathan Koshi created his own sugar skull designs, but added some modern, pop culture twists. His amazingly intricate works depict characters like Pac-Man, the Alien, a Lego head, Kermit the Frog, Spy vs. Spy and others envisioned as sugar skulls decorated with Mexican-American designs and motifs. After drawing them digitally, he then had them letter pressed on 100% cotton paper using vegetable ink. The results are startlingly beautiful, wryly funny and filter an ancient custom through a decidedly modern lens.
Unfortunately (and not surprisingly), all the prints that Koshi had available for sale have sold out, but here’s hoping he makes some more available in time for this year’s Day of the Dead. Kermit the Frog has never looked so sinister. OK, well maybe that one time.