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  • Writer's pictureSteven Heller

Oaxaca’s Modern Posadas

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.

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