Meet artists behind San Antonio's life-sized sugar skulls

The artists who have created colorful sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos pulled the curtain behind their creative process
The artists who have created colorful sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos pulled the curtain behind their creative process

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio will soon celebrate its first ever Dia de Los Muertos river parade, and starting this weekend ,you may see some life-sized skulls on display throughout La Villita and the Pearl. 

The display is part of an inaugural project with the theme "Celebration of Life."

A team of eight artists is creating the Day of the Dead skulls, including contemporary artist Andy Benavides. 

"I had this interest in covering this whole thing in mirrors," Benavides said. "It wasn't going to practical for the scale of it. It was going to require 20,000 mirrors. There wasn't a vendor in town that could get me that many mirrors."

Related Day of the Dead coverage: 

Special Section: KSAT travels to Mexico to research history, origins of Day of the Dead

FIRST LOOK: First colorful barges revealed for Day of Dead Parade in SA

Celebration of the dead: 7 things to know about Dia de los Muertos

Benavides said his initial thought for his piece, "regalo" or "gift" in English, was for it be covered in mirrors. He then decided to make it appear that it was covered in tiles.

"On many levels, it was a gift to the ancestral memories, as well as a literal gift to the city," Benavides said. 

The life-size fiberglass skulls were brought in from Mexico.. 

"It took me back to my grandmother's backyard," Benavides said. "Whether it was there or not, I remember a tile-covered skull, which was a folk-art piece, and that's where it took off."

Another local artist, Cristina Noriega, titled her piece "La Lucha Sigue" or "the fight continues," which is a memorial to Emma Tenayuca. Noriega said her grandmother was a pecan sheller, so the piece had a personal meaning as well. 

Benavides said being a part of the inaugural project with the team of artists is an honor.

"Anytime I get an opportunity like this, I take it," Benavides said. "Because it's public information, it's celebrating our culture. It's all the right things and all the beautiful qualities of what our city is about, what we're about culturally."

Benavides said in addition to the eight skulls worked on in San Antonio, there will be eight more produced by artists in Mexico City. 

About the Authors:

Stephanie Serna is a weekday anchor on Good Morning San Antonio and GMSA at 9 a.m. She joined the KSAT 12 News team in November 2009 as a general assignments reporter.