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Aurora Public Library celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with exhibits by local Latino artists

Giant hand-painted skulls or "calacas" and community-generated photography will be on display at six of their library branches.
Credit: Aurora Public Library

AURORA, Colo. — Aurora Public Library (APL) is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with two new exhibits highlighting the work of local Latino artists.

One will consist of giant hand-painted skulls, or “calacas,” and the other a community-generated photo exhibit.

In partnership with the Denver Botanic Gardens' annual Día de los Muertos celebration, APL will present the seven larger-than-life papier-mâché skulls hand-painted by Colorado artists: Alejandra Huerta, Xencs, Artmando Silva, 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, or offering table, indicating that life is sweet and fleeting. 

Each library branch, except Iliff Square, 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 the Denver Botanic Gardens to be part of its Día de los Muertos celebration Nov. 5.

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.

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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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