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Calacas and Photo Exhibits at Aurora Public Library

Calacas and Photo Exhibits at Aurora Public Library
Posted on 09/19/2022
Giant hand-painted skulls at Aurora Public Library

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Aurora Public Library is hosting two art exhibits at six library branches by local Latino/Latina artists, one with giant hand-painted skulls or “calacas,” and the other one with a community-generated photography exhibit.

In partnership with Denver Botanic Gardens' annual Día de los Muertos celebration, Aurora Public Library is hosting seven larger-than-life paper-mâché skulls “calacas” hand-painted by several Colorado artists: Alejandra Huerta, Xencs, Artmando, Cal Duran, Cindy Loya, Julio “Jwlc” Mendoza and UC Sepia. Each “calaca” provides a visual story of the artist’s roots and their own interpretation of the ancestral Día de los Muertos celebration.

“Calacas” are often made of decorated sugar, named for loved ones and placed upon the altar in the ofrenda (“offering” table for the honored deceased including photos, favorite meals, personal items, etc.) indicating that life is sweet and fleeting.

Each library branch, except Iliff Square (given space limitations), is hosting a skull from Friday, Sept. 16, to Friday, Oct. 21. People are encouraged to visit all branches to experience the exhibit in its totality. The “calacas” will be brought to Denver Botanic Gardens to be part of its Día de los Muertos celebration Nov. 5.

Posting selfies on social using #DBGCommunity and #APLintheCommunity will get participants a chance to win four tickets to Denver Botanic Garden’s Día de los Muertos celebration on Saturday, Nov. 5. Entries must be posted by 11 a.m. Oct. 21, and winners will be announced Oct. 25. Participants will also get a prize from the library, either a commemorative beer glass or a beer growler, for sending selfies with at least five of the seven skulls to [email protected]. Learn more at

Aurora Public Library is also partnering with the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) on the collaborative photography exhibit “Pride on Your Side,” opening Sept. 30 at Central Library, 14949 E. Alameda Parkway. This exhibit is led by Juan Fuentes, a documentary photographer born in Mexico who grew up in Denver’s northside neighborhood, and whose work tells stories of contemporary America, highlighting the immigrant and Chicano experience.

In August, Fuentes taught two photography workshops encouraging participants to explore the joy of photography and empowering them to document their own experiences. “Pride on Your Side” will include photos from Aurora community members reflecting their everyday experiences and showcasing their pride in the city.

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