Catalina Delgado Trunk
In the contemporary mercados of Mexico, papel picado art on paper creates a lively visual support to any festival. Traditionally the papel picado maker’s commercial work is done on tissue paper. Negative spaces are cut out with a chisel, as many as 40 sheets at a time. Catalina Delgado Trunk is perhaps one of the most accomplished papel picado artists in North America. Instead of chisels, Catalina uses Xacto knives, creating a far more intricate art, one piece at a time. Catalina works with intricate compositions on archival papers from around the world,
In pre-colonial times the Aztecs used obsidian knives on fig and mulberry bark papers. After the arrival of the Spanish, Christian and secular themes were incorporated into the art. In the 16th century, Chinese Porcelain was imported to Mexico through the Philippines. These were wrapped in tissue paper which often were the discarded stencils of the porcelain painters. Again, the Mexican artists assimilated these new designs. Catalina Delgado Trunk continues the traditional assimilation of source material in her art. In her intimate works, she manages to incorporate a vast array of references and her deep scholarship: From pre-Columbian Aztec ritual and agronomy to the 19th century designs of Jose Guadalupe Posada; from Frida Kahlo to Laurel and Hardy, from Asian figuration to the cyclical time based calendrical knowledge of the Mayans.
Perhaps the most poignant Mexican festival is El Dia de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead. Catalina suggests to us through her artistic response to the indigenous Mexican holiday that it is also a celebration of democracy, that is, the equality we all must accept on our dying day.