Aesthetics Embodied: Santa Muerte and San la Muerte

Fall 2019 Grant Recipient

Graduate Student

Jessica Marroquín (Spanish, Italian and Portuguese)

I will travel to Tepotzotlán to visit colonial and baroque art collections that portray skeletal representations of death housed at the Museo Nacional del Virreinato in Mexico. The museum contains a large collection of vanitas and skeleton art of the colonial period and the Políptico de la muerte. The Políptico de la muerte is of particular interest as it is composed of six laminates with unique paintings of skeletons that were transported to different spaces, such as dormitories, public oratories, or religious dwellings in the XVIII century. My dissertation uses an interdisciplinary approach to trace a genealogy of literary and graphic dynamics that have fashioned the contemporary aesthetics of Santa Muerte – Saint Death or Holy Death – in Mexico. My future research will analyze the aesthetic and religious (dis)connections that the Santa Muerte has with art produced in Spain and the Americas during the 17th and 18th centuries.