September 29, 2017

Monarchs, Marigolds, and a Mural

Jet Martinez’s new artwork is up at OMCA for Days of the Dead

By OMCA Staff

There’s something new a-flutter at the Oakland Museum of California’s Oak Street Plaza: a beautiful mural of Monarch Butterflies painted by Oakland-based artist Jet Martinez. Commissioned for our upcoming exhibition Metamorphosis & Migration: Days of the Dead opening on October 18, 2017. 

Titled Resilience, Jet’s mural is a perfect beginning to our favorite biennial exhibition. This year, our Days of the Dead exhibition takes the lifecycle of the Monarch Butterfly as a core inspiration. Known for its mass migration every winter, this regal insect follows the same routes of its ancestors across generations. It’s also a traditional symbol in Mexico of the returning souls of loved ones who have passed away, making it an even more compelling thematic metaphor for the exhibition. 

Jet’s painting style for the mural takes inspiration from painted enameled plates originating from Michoacán, Mexico, which is also, as the artist notes, where many Monarchs culminate their journey. The flowers Jet chose are also symbolic to the themes of Days of the Dead: “This mural celebrates the Zempasuchil (marigold), a symbol of the fragility of life, and the Monarch Butterfly, a symbol of trans-generational migration,” Jet explains. Together, these symbols connect to the human story of migration, honoring those who have lost their lives during the arduous journey from Mexico and other regions while en route to to the United States.

Resilience will grace our chalkboard for only the next three months during the run of Metamorphosis & Migration: Days of the Dead—giving this work of art its own temporary life cycle, much like the Monarchs and marigolds it depicts. Don’t miss your chance to come see the mural and to spend time exploring its intricacies. And, there is even a tiny secret symbol hidden within the painting for you to discover. Can you spot it? 

Jet Martinez’s mural Resilience is on view now at the Oakland Museum of California. Metamorphosis & Migration: Days of the Dead opens October 18, 2017 and runs through January 12, 2018. 

Save the date for our 23rd Annual Days of the Dead Community Celebration on October 22, 2017! Learn more and buy your tickets online early to this popular annual event.