In continued celebration of the lives of our Beloveds, I leave you with this Skelly Family doing what some of us do best! Below is reprint of an interview I did for 5Qs with… DeadDeco.com back in 2012! Enjoy!
Welcome to another exciting week of art and culture here at Dead Deco. To kick off the festivities this week, we have a special treat. Introducing Misty Benson of Gossamer Faery. Misty is an exceptionally talented artist who is in constant exploration of what she has dubbed the Morbidly Adorable. Misty has a familiarity with the macabre that bestows the essence of Muerte Art and Calavera Culture upon her work without trapping her within the limitations of predictable imagery. Equally impressive is her ability to express herself both in the 2-d and 3-d realms by excelling in both illustration and hand-made craft. Without further ado…
Dead Deco: Misty, thank you for taking time away from your workshop to answer a few questions for us. How did you first learn about the Day of the Dead?
Misty Benson: I have been obsessed with the skeleton all of my life. Before I decided to throw caution to the wind and become a full-time artist, I was taking courses to become a veterinarian. I had grown up looking at various animal skeletons, studying anatomy, and poking at lots of dead things! We all need our skeletons if we don’t want to be a bag of goo, and just the thought that a woman can knit a skeleton right in her belly is amazing! It was a natural transition to start painting what I know and love. I cannot remember the specific moment I learned about El Dia de Los Muertos, but I delved into the tradition even more after coming across a painting by Frida Kahlo. I really do not have a choice but to create my own Day of the Dead minions! If I did not, they would never let me hear the end of it!
DD: What is your favorite Day of the Dead tradition?
MB: Only one?! If I must, I have a special place in my heart for the marigolds — those little beacons that wake up and guide the ancestors back home are really meaningful to me. When I was growing up, my grandmother used to plant rows of marigolds around her patio each summer. I looked forward to going to the garden department and picking out flat after flat of those colorful little flowers. She would guide me as I dug little holes for them, and they would delight us all summer long. I’m sure she didn’t plant them for their association with Day of the Dead, but rather for their cheery faces and their mosquito repellent properties. I already had a love for them, but after learning of the duty they serve to the dead, my love has only deepened.
DD: How does your community respond to Day of the Dead?
MB: I guess I would consider my “community” to be the group of people I know online, and they of course respond to it very well! The exquisite support of my fans through the adoption of my creations — the Skellies — has allowed me to dream about and live in a Day of the Dead world 24/7, 365. I know there is a huge reverence for the tradition, and as information becomes increasingly global, it only grows. Death is not a foreign topic to my family either. We have long been at peace with the idea. My father became a sexton (caretaker) at a local cemetery several years ago. We have always embraced Halloween, and I have spent half of my life reading about the gruesome deaths of saints. It is my goal to travel to Mexico during this time and experience Day of the Dead with a community that lives and breathes the tradition. I have so much to experience!
DD: Do you have a particular Day of the Dead artist whose work you admire?
MB: Although she wasn’t specifically a Day of the Dead artist , this question brings me back to Frida Kahlo. Her continual reference to the celebration inspired me to study the culture even more. And don’t let me forget Jose Posada. He absolutely set the bar for the genre. I’d say those are two of the more well known artists, but the amazing thing about Day of the Dead is everyone that celebrates it is an artist in their own right. Whether it manifests in the building of an altar, the making of a calavera, or the crafting of papel picado banners (paper cut-outs,) Day of the Dead art is everywhere! When it comes to this tradition, its theme of inclusion and celebration allows everyone to be an artist.
DD: Is there anything else about Day of the Dead that you would like to share?
MB: I have always been fascinated by the idea that the death of the flesh is not the “true death.” Yes, I know! It sounds a little vampiric! Day of the Dead reminds us that the true death only comes when the memory of your loved one is forgotten. My work has been a way for me to commemorate people, pets, milestones, relationships, laughter, tears, and just about everything under the sun. The Skelly acts as a tiny witness so that nothing or no one ever has to experience a true death.
Thank you, Misty, for those interesting and insightful responses. We and our readers really appreciate them. If you want to see more of Misty’s work you can visit her at MorbidlyAdorable.com or follow her updates at facebook.com/MistyBensonArt