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Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is Now Home to a Día de Muertos Catrina Statue

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, which runs along Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street, is celebrating Día de Muertos in style with a new Catrina statue that stands at a whopping 10 feet tall. The statue is currently standing on Michigan Avenue and Ohio Street, and functions as both a piece of art and an educational tool.

Magnificent Mile, also known as the Mag Mile, is one of Chicago’s most populous cultural hubs, attracting residents and tourists from all walks of life. The statue is currently standing in front of Colores Mexicanos, a gift shop owned by Gabriel Neely-Streit and Erika Espinosa, reports CBS News.

Neely-Streit describes the statue as being “made of fiberglass – with a metal skeleton inside.” And while it will most definitely catch the attention of passersby with its imposing height, the statue has been strategically placed to educate visitors about the history and significance of Día de Muertos.

“It’s a representation of our culture and of all the people Mexican people here in the city,” Espinosa said. “We are a big population of Mexicans – more than 1 million.” She added, “In this season, it’s very important, because it’s when we remember our beloved ones who passed – and everybody can celebrate.”

La Catrina is symbolic of Día de Muertos and is perhaps the most iconic image associated with the holiday. The origin, according to National Geographic, can be traced back to José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican printmaker and satirist who created La Catrina as an amalgamation of various symbols he had been developing throughout his career.

The figure was originally called La Calavera Catrina and was created to satirize one of Mexico’s most notorious leaders, Porfirio Diaz, and his obsession with high-society European aesthetics. Diego Rivera then repurposed the image in a mural he painted some years later.

The statue on Mag Mile was created by Mexican artist José Luis Martinez Pasillas in Aguascalientes, from which it traveled more than 2,000 miles to be placed in front of Colores Mexicanos. Neely-Strait expressed how proud he felt to have the statue outside of his store, saying, “We feel like it’s our mission as a store to show the finest in Mexican art and culture in downtown Chicago to the world, because Michigan Avenue has the eyes of the world on it.”

Martinez’s La Catrina statue was transported to Chicago by Bolingbrook natives Jesus Serna and Margarita Morelos. “It’s a beautiful, elegant lady in the way that we Mexicans see death,” Morelos said. “So that’s a way to remember to enjoy life and also embrace mortality.” Serna added, “I hope that people enjoy it – and that’s an honor.”

Colores Mexicanos will be displaying the statue outside of their store until the end of November, at which point Serna and Morelos will move it to a festival planned for next year. Until then, Morelos has a bit of advice: “Take pictures!”

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