National Museum of Mexican Art opens exhibit honoring Latino dead from COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Latinx community is one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 in Chicago. Now, there's a new exhibit opening to honor all of the people in our lives that have come before us including those who have died from the pandemic.

If art is a reflection of life, there is a stark image in the mirror. COVID-19 has claimed thousands of lives in the Latinx community in Chicago. A running tally of the dead due to COVID-19 in the US and world is now part of a new exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art to honor those lives lost.

"In a sense we're saying to all of these people, thank you, we love you, we miss you, we honor you, we care about you," said museum president, Carlos Tortolero.

Tortolero said this is one aspect of the 34th Dia De Los Muertos, or, Day of the Dead, exhibit at the museum.

"All the artwork for the show are pieces from our collection or artists from Chicago," he said.

But as we mourn those lives lost, a reminder from Tortolero and Chicago artist Salvador Jimenez-Flores, "Day of the Dead is not a celebration of death, right? It's a celebration of life. It's where we get an opportunity to welcome our ancestors and find a way to connect with them," Jimenez-Flores said.

He sculpted an installation to honor the Little Village community. Lungs represent its struggle with industrial pollution, and a hanging mask does the same for COVID-19.

"It's a great time to celebrate life but also acknowledge the dark times that we're living right now," Jimenez-Flores said.

New works from this year reflect Latinos in 2020.

"It's an opportunity to showcase all these unseen injustices that have actually been happening in neighborhoods like Little Village and Pilsen for decades," Jimenez-Flores said.

But, Dia de Los Muertos has a message that crosses cultures, ethnicities and ages.

"It makes you face the reality of death," Tortorlero said. "You know we're all going to die, so let's celebrate life. What happens afterwards happens afterwards. You're not in control of that. But enjoy life, value life, it's a precious, precious thing.

The National Museum of Mexican Art opened the exhibit virtually Friday, so anyone can take part.

You can find more information about the museum on their website.
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