José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) was a Mexican engraver and printmaker known for his satirical and politically stinging calaveras. Deriving from the Spanish word for “skulls, these calaveras were illustrations featuring skeletons which would, after Posada’s death, become associated with the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.
His work seems to be the inspiration for the amazing street art in Oaxaca where the colorful buildings are covered with contemporary Posadas. The buildings are bright yellow and orange and blue. Women in embroidered huipiles sell tropical fruits in doorways and vintage, exhaust-spewing VW beetles of every color whizz down the streets. Hundreds of big murals, bright posters and graffiti are everywhere.
Street art is often political, but in Oaxaca it’s especially so. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico; there are protests every day in the zocalo. These in situ images, photographed by Mirko Ilic, are a way for the citizenry to speak out. Many of them celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →