La Cadena Que No Se Corta: The Unbroken Chain

La Cadena Que No Se Corta en espagñol

la Comunidad, the Community
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Under this heading go all those art forms whose purpose seems to be to strengthen the community, or to project the community's image, values and aesthetic to the outside world.

Cascarones for sale at the Tucson Meet Yourself festival, 1990 (JSG)
Cascarónes for sale at the Tucson Meet Yourself festival, 1990 (JSG)

In most parts of the Mexican world, cascarónes are simple eggshells which have been emptied, painted or otherwise decorated, and filled with confetti. They are then broken over the heads of partygoers (usually children) to intensify the festive spirit of the occasion. Originally associated with Carnival and the Easter season, they are now made and used all year round. In the Tucson area, cascarónes have become an elaborate art form, with a long stem covered with cut tissue paper, and the possibility of quite elaborate decoration on the egg itself. These cascarónes were for sale at a local folklife festival.

Angelita Montoya with a sampling of her cascarónes (JSG)
Angelita Montoya with a sampling of her cascarónes (JSG)

Sra. Montoya is one of several women who regularly augment their income by making and selling cascarónes. Her cascarónes include, from left, Santa Claus, Pancho Villa, Adelita, a cat, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, a skunk, a bunny, and a clown.

Piñata maker Jesús García with some of his work in 1990 (JSG)
Piñata maker Jesús García with some of his work in 1990 (JSG)

Sr. García is one of several full-time professional piñata makers in Tucson. He makes all sports of piñata to order for stores and private individuals.

A Bart Simpson piñata made by Jesús García (JSG)
A Bart Simpson piñata made by Jesús García (JSG)

Piñatas, those containers decorated with colored paper, filled with candies, and made to be broken at parties, are made by several professionals and amateurs in the Tucson area. Jesús García is a full-time professional piñata maker, creating his works on order and for general sale. His materials: newspaper, tissue paper, flour-and-water glue, scissors, and an old bowling ball for a form. With these he creates three-dimensional works of art that enliven all kinds of parties for both adults and children. From our earliest descriptions in the 1890s, piñatas seem to have a topicality built in to them -- every time a new character appears in the movies or cartoons, he, she, or it will be made into a piñata!

A corona or wreath of paper flowers by Josefina Lizárraga (JSG)
A corona or wreath of paper flowers by Josefina Lizárraga (JSG)

Mrs. Lizárraga learned her paper flower skills as a girl in her native state of Nayarit, Mexico. Today the owner of a successful florist shop on Tucson's west side, she makes occasional paper flowers and arrangements to help out friends and to ensure that the art is not lost. This is the sort of wreath that a person might order to put on a family grave on The Day of the Dead.

View short video clips of the la Comunidad section shot at a University of Arizona's Museum of Art exhibit in November 1996.

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