Stephanie Schorow, who has lived in West Medford for 18 years, is a writer and a clay artist.
I divide my time among various creative efforts. I have been making pottery for more than 25 years; currently I study at Mudflat Studio in Somerville. I have taught pottery at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and sell my work through the Mudflat Gallery and various craft fairs. I create functional pottery in stoneware, adding surface decorations such as slip work and carving. Additionally, I create modern, American twists on traditional Mexican “Day of the Dead” figurines.
My 'day job' is as a freelance writer, editor and writing instructor. I am the author, co-author or editor of eight nonfiction books, including: Inside the Combat Zone; The Crime of the Century: How the Brink’s Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston, Boston on Fire: A History of Fires and Firefighting in Boston; The Cocoanut Grove Fire; and Drinking Boston: A History of the City and Its Spirits. I have worked for the Boston Herald, the Associated Press and other newspapers. I am currently working on a novel.
See my website at stephanieschorow.com.
The image of a well-dressed, upper-class female skeleton has long been a motif in Mexican art. Drawing on traditions of the "El Día de los Muertos" or "Day of the Dead” ceremonies – in which the dead return for a happy visit – La Catrina was a form of social satire in a country in which a huge gap existed between rich and poor. As a museum curator noted, ""Death brings this neutralizing force; everyone is equal in the end.” Thus the elegant garb of the Catrina contrasts with her deceased state.
I became fascinated with Day of the Dead images when I first went to Mexico in 1983 to study Spanish. The cheerful images of Los Muertos, often depicted drinking, playing music or getting married, was starkly different than the scary skulls and bone motifs in American culture and Halloween traditions. La Catrina, often pictured with parrots and fancy garb, fascinated me and I began doing my own versions of her. More recently, I began to add elements of modern American culture – the equivalent of the fancy hats and boas in Rivera’s world. Today’s Catrinas chat on cell phone, or play on iPads, with Angry Birds and Twitter birds adding a new element. Like the Catrinas in Mexican art, my ladies mock the trappings of life that seem so important to us but will not accompany us into the next world.