On the Path of Marigolds:
Living Traditions of México’s Day of the Dead

On the Path of Marigolds:
Living Traditions of México’s Day of the Dead
By Ann Murdy Essay by Denise Chávez Conversation with the Author by Cesáreo Moreno George F. Thompson Publishing November 2019

Photographer Ann Murdy has been documenting the celebrations around Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) in México for more than 20 years. A native of Los Angeles, she first started collecting Chicano art in the 1990s, and was drawn to México by the vibrancy of its culture and traditions. She loved the rich color she found everywhere, from the brilliant red and pink of the flowers adorning the ofrendas or altars to the dead, to the dusky yellow of the marigolds lining the ofrendas and the pathways to them, whether in private homes or cemeteries.

As she shows in her hauntingly beautiful images, in México, death is considered a part of life, something to be celebrated, not feared. El día de los muertos (which actually lasts two days, November 1-2), is a time to gather with friends and families to feast, pray, dance, and honor the lives of those who have died. This lovely volume gathers 90 of her most stunning images of celebrations from three villages, Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, Huaquechula in Puebla, and Lake Pátzcuaro in Michoacán, along with a conversation with her with Cesaréo Moreno, director of visual arts and chief curator of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, IL, and an essay by Mexican-American writer Denise Chávez.

Ann Murdy is a photographer based in Santa Fe, NM. Her work has been shown at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, CA, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, IL, the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica, CA, and Museo Chicano in Phoenix, AZ , among others.

Denise Chávez is a performance artist, novelist, and teacher whose work celebrates the border corridor of southern New Mexico, West Texas, and northern Mexico. Her novel, Face of an Angel (1994) won the American Book Award and her The King and Queen of Comezón (2014) won the 2015 International Latino Book Award and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for fiction.

Cesáreo Moreno has been the visual arts director of the National Museum of Mexican Art since 1995, and was named the museum’s first full-time curator in 2004. Moreno has conducted research on the Mexican holdings of museums throughout Mexico and the U.S. He has curated and/or coordinated numerous exhibitions, and served as a juror and panelist for numerous groups including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.   

Hardcover: 176 pp.; 100 color photographs 10.5 x 10 (portrait)

ISBN: 978–1–938086–72–4

Available at bookstores or from www.caseipm.com

View this book on Goodreads.

2022 Top Five Books to Read to Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

2021 Southwest Book Design Awards Best Photography/Art Book, Best Bilingual, and Best in Show for a hardcover book!

Winner of the 2019 Multicultural Adult Nonfiction Foreword Award!

Finalist for Best Art Book of the Year from Latino Literacy Now‘s 2020 International Latino Book Awards!

Finalist for Best Multicultural book of the year award from the annual New Mexico/Arizona book awards.

Honorable Mention for the Best Arts Book category of the International Latino Book Awards.

Read a review by Enrique Lamadrid, University of New Mexico.

Read an interview with Murdy by Rich Tenorio for the Mexico News Daily.

October 27, 2023 from 4-5pm, On the Path of Marigolds with Ann Murdy at the Santa Fe Public Library, Santa Fe, NM

September 22 – December 10, 2023, Dia de Los Muertos, Living Presence exhibition, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL

Sunday, October 30, 2022 at 3pm: Book Talk at Collected Works Bookstore, Santa Fe, NM

Saturday, October 29, 2022 from 10:00am to 12:00pm: Book Talk at Hibben Center, Atrium & Maxwell Museum Courtyard, Albuquerque, NM

May 23, 2022 from 11am-12pm: Book signing at the International Folk Art Market, 620 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM

October 30, 2020 at noon: Artist Talk via Zoom at the Santa Fe Public Library

October 21, 2020 at 6pm: Artist Talk via Zoom at the Santa Fe Public Library (pdf announcement)

October 15, 2021 from 6-8pm: Lecture and book signing International Folk Art Market, 620 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM (pdf anouncement)

Read an article in Pasatiempo about the book signing at International Folk Art Market.

View Murdy’s work at the National Museum of Mexican Art’s Permanent Collection.

Read an article by Murdy about the Day of the Dead Traditions in Rural Mexico, Santa Fean, Oct/Nov 2020

Listen to an interview on Cline’s Corner 10/30/2020.

“At a time when blockbuster animated films have made the Mexican observances of dia de los muertos part of American pop culture, Ann Murdy transports us into the distinct, real-life, solemn practices and rituals deep in the heart of Mexico. With brilliant, somber, and heart-stopping photographs, Murdy opens a portal into the dignified private and public spaces created by humble residents to honor the dead. On the Path of Marigolds highlights the various ways rural Central Mexicans in three communities celebrate the lives of those departed through thoughtfully framed, meaningful portraits of the altars and commemorations that communicate how communities and individuals make these remembrances simultaneously personal and public.
  “From the altar of the infant Gerardo Alexis in Huaquechula, Puebla, with toys, breads, juice, fruit, milk, and yogurt to the vividly intricate sand carpets in the churches and homes of Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, to elaborately decorated graveyards surrounding Lago de Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Ann Murdy showcases these public celebrations of the sacred and personal. Denise Chávez’s introductory essay wonderfully places these pictures and dia de los muertos into context, allowing us to better understand the significance of these photographs. This book should be in the hands of everyone interested in Mexican and ‘Mexican-American’ culture.”
—Michael D. Innis-Jiménez, Professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama, series editor of Latinx Histories (University of North Carolina Press), and author of Steel Barrio: The Great Mexican Migration to South Chicago, 1915-1940