Beautiful Dia de los Muertos Altar

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Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is this week. I just saw a beautiful, colorful DDLM altar at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego that I just had to share. The altar was made by a group including representatives of the Mexican Consulate in San Diego, so you know it is authentic!

The altars are in memory of a departed loved one. This one is in memory of Tin Tan, a Mexican film star who appeared in over 100 films. The signage reads:

Day of the Dead, one of the annual festivities celebrated by Mexicans, is a result of pre-Hispanic and Christian traditions. It is a day where families and friends get together to remember and honor loved ones who are no longer among us.  This celebration begins by setting up an altar containing favorite objects and mentors that reveal the personality of the departed, their talents and preferences. Other classic elements of the Day of the Dead altar are flowers, drinking water, food, fruits and salt, each with a special location and meaning within the altar.  The installed experiential space is valuable for its historical and cultural traditions that contribute to praising both the person the altar is dedicated to and the cultural heritage of Mexico.

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Special Notice for San Diego Teachers and Parents:

  • Teachers: Do you want to take your class to the Mingei Museum? The Mingei provides free admission for all K-12th grade tours as long as they’re scheduled in advance.
  • Parents: The Mingei is free to San Diego county residents and military the third Tuesday of the month. Monthly Family Sundays offer admission and fun activities for just $5/family. Go to for more details.


Are you creating any special projects for Dia de los Muertos?

San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts: Call for Entries

MOPA collage

The Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park has a Call for Entries for their 8th Annual juried Youth Exhibition. This year’s theme deals with community in My City, Your City. They are now accepting submissions from San Diego students K-12 who have used photography or video to document their community, neighborhood, or home from a personal or cultural point of view.

What does it mean to call a place home? 

What story would you tell about your community?

Where do you come from and what do you call home?

My City, Your City will showcase the creative and artistic voices of San Diego’s youth while offering visitors the opportunity to view the world through their eyes. Encourage your students to submit their artwork today! Open to all of San Diego County K-12 students!

The deadline is June 15, 2013.

Visit for more information or to download a submission packet. You can also watch their call for entries video here.

30-Minute Collograph Printmaking


Want to try a printmaking project that is quick, fun, versatile and inexpensive? Try collographs.


Maxi Moraga leads collograph workshop in NCM’s art education room.

I took Maxi Moraga’s fabulous collograph workshop last month at San Diego’s New Children’s Museum. This workshop tied in to the NCM’s current exhibition, TRASH, so we used lots of recycled/discarded items to create our printing plates.


  • cardboard rectangles (we used corrugated)
  • bits of textured fabric, including mesh and screening
  • yarn
  • cardboard
  • masking tape
  • glue sticks
  • white glue
  • scissors
  • printer’s ink in assorted colors
  • brayers
  • trays for ink
  • paper for printing (cardstock is OK)
  • colored pencils

We began by creating printing plates. We collaged various items to our cardboard rectangles (note: Maxi strongly encouraged us to use glue stick).  Here are some of the plates:

Collograph plates. Yarn is simply wrapped around the plate.

Tip: after completing plate, ask students to flip plate upside down on their chairs and sit on them for 60 seconds! Now your plate is really glued down and ready to print.

Next, we applied printer’s ink to our plates using these mini-brayers and recycled plastic trays. I love that the tray has a lip to keep the brayer constrained. Great when you are printing with young children!

Apply printer’s ink with a brayer.

We didn’t use a press. We simply put the paper over the inked plate and rubbed the paper carefully with our hands.


  • use a paper towel to selectively remove ink from the plate before printing.
  • create a print using two or more colors of ink
  • color the paper before and/or after printing.

My favorite piece is the masking tape collograph made with corrugated cardboard.

Because of the emphasis on recycled materials, this would be a nice Earth Day project as well!

Whether you are a parent or a teacher, be sure to check out the New Children’s Museum when you visit San Diego. The museum offers art-making activities for children EVERY DAY. I wrote more about the museum in this post.

Do you have a favorite printmaking project?

UPDATE: 12/16/13: Check out my new post – ‘Holiday Collagraph Crayon Rubbings’


Best. Conference. Ever.

What makes a good conference? Great workshops and networking, of course. Hold it in a drop dead AMAZING setting like San Diego’s New Children’s Museum (NCM) and you have a home run hit! San Diego Art Education Association held its first annual Visual Arts Educators Conference this month at the museum. After introductions by energetic new SDAEA president Ron Jessee and a keynote address, Tomoko Kuta, NCM’s Director of Education & Exhibitions, took us on a tour.

The New Children’s Museum is one of the only children’s museum in the United States dedicated to commissioning artists to create site-specific works for a youth audience.

Staff held a kiddie yoga class under this Layer sculpture the day we visited.

Jason Rogene’s sculpture/light fixture made of styrofoam packaging.

Jason Rogenes’ Megalitransponder includes kiddie climbing wall topped with cardboard installation.

I got to attend three workshops, all tied in to NCM’s current exhibition, TRASH. They were held in the museum’s art education studios.

  • ’30-minute’ collograph printmaking with the museum’s art educator, Maxi Moraga
  • sculpture/drawing project based on the art of Peter Opheim by fellow San Diego elementary art teacher and blogger Don Masse of Zamorano Arts Academy
  • cardboard climbing squares group sculpture based on Charles and Ray Eames’ House of Cards, again by Maxi Moraga

Maxi Moraga leads collograph workshop.

Collograph print. No press required!

Sculpt/draw with Don Masse. I really admired this project when I first read it on his blog. So thrilled to try it out myself!!

Starting point for the house of cards sculpture. We collaged/painted our pieces, then assembled. This would be a great whole class or whole grade project.

As if all this wasn’t enough, we had a fabulous lunch from Urbane Cafe, gift bags with goodies from Blick and Artists and Craftsmen and a raffle with prizes donated by Blick, A&C and area education and arts organizations.  I won tickets to the City Ballet! Thanks also to local arts advocacy group art pulse.

A lot of foks in SDAEA, SD County Office of Education and NCM put together this amazing event. Thanks so much for a perfect day.

Like I said:


 UPDATE: San Diego County art educators: check out our new SDCAEA Facebook page!

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