Murals, Monarchs, Mexico –
– a Whole New Culture Is Sometimes Just Steps Away!
One of the most intriguing things about traveling is the changing of worlds. We cross all kinds of inner and outer borders to find ourselves in unknown microcosms that open a whole new experience to us. The good news is that we do not have to travel to faraway places to witness this. It can happen right at our door – if we go through life with awareness and open eyes. I recently was so lucky as to be right in the middle of such a constellation.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you have certainly seen lots of photos of monarch butterflies. Over the past months I have raised some of those beautiful creatures who in the beginning of November will migrate to Mexico for the winter and return next spring. It is an awe-inspiring spectacle to see millions of monarchs in one place – pure beauty and nature at its very best.
Now as you may know I live very close to the over 40 murals of the Chicago Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC). At the moment they are adding a lot of new murals. So imagine my surprise when I went to one of the unveilings and found that the mural features monarch butterfly wings: another one of life’s marvelous “coincidences”! The work was commissioned by famous Cirque du Soleil and inspired by their show “LUZIA: A Waking Dream of Mexico”.
Artist Gloria “Gloe” Talamantes who lives in Chicago and has a Mexican family background created the mural. Beside monarch wings it depicts motifs that are inspired by her Mexican roots, for example the crocheted designs of her grandmother and great-grandmother. The work also takes up several scenes from LUZIA, like some graffiti-style dripping effects who mirror the water scenes in Cirque du Soleil’s spectacle. The weaving of details from the piece, Talantes’ own Mexican heritage and her artistic styles creates a complex canvas that unveils a lot of depth we might not notice if we just walked by the mural without learning more about it.
The monarch butterflies are closely connected to Mexican culture. Their influx is already known since pre-Hispanic times. They were called “harvester butterflies” by the native Indians since they appeared at the time of the corn harvest. Mexico’s most famous holiday, the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) also falls in that period. Thus, the Elders formed the belief that the souls of their deceased ancestors who return to earth once a year on that special day have taken on the form of the monarch butterflies. It is therefore no surprise that you will also find murals featuring monarchs in Mexico City.
So, just by walking in the neighborhood I basically made a trip to a different culture, which had already come into my own life in form of those cute monarch caterpillars I had picked up in order to raise them.
This experience left me with so many things to reflect upon – life is art (the monarchs), and art is life (the murals that influence our everyday and make our lives more colorful). Travel can be the connecting link between the two. Art, life, travel: Everything is intertwined and connected, and it just takes a little curiosity and an open mind to see it. So why not walk through your daily life and look for such connections?
Speaking of which: Would you want to experience this yourself? Then I have 3 great offers for you:
- To make it possible for you to explore the murals in the Wabash Arts Corridor DIY style I created an ‘experience’ with a ten stop highlight visit of the murals and some information. Just check out this link: Mural Art Chicago.
- If you prefer to have a more personal and in-depth experience you can learn about this and other murals in one of my guided tours around the Wabash Arts Corridor. Just check out the upcoming events on my facebook page.
- And if you are so intrigued that you want “the whole thingamajing” it even gets better: In the future I will offer a curated travel experience to Mexico during the time the monarchs have migrated there. It is a beyond amazing experience. So stay tuned and subscribe to my newsletter to be first to know about it.
As always I invite you to open your eyes for all the beauty and meaning the world has to offer us.
PS. If you, like me, have fallen in love with the monarchs’ beauty and don’t know what to offer your dear ones for Xmas I got you covered: Just surprise them with this 2018 calendar which I created from my monarch photos. 2018 Monarch Calendar