To Love and Be Loved in Return: Día de Los Muertos 2022
honors the lessons we’ve learned from the dead
Curated by Rio Yañez and Anaís Azul
Opening reception and exhibition unveiling, October 7, 6–9 PM
On view Saturday, October 8–November 4, 2022
September 13, 2022, San Francisco, CA–Now in its 23rd year, SOMArts’ annual Día de Los Muertos exhibition is one of the most internationally diverse Day of the Dead celebrations in the United States. Founded by beloved San Francisco artist and curator René Yañez, Día de Los Muertos at SOMArts merges traditional altars with contemporary installations, continuing to be a multigenerational gathering of remembrance while affirming the importance of arts & culture in shaping our worlds.
Stewarded by Rio Yañez and Anaís Azul, who is co-curating this exhibition for the first time, To Love and Be Loved in Return: Día de Los Muertos 2022 exemplifies how the love between us and our dead continue to help us navigate a world troubled by injustice. This exhibition asserts that our relationship with our ancestors and with each other is essential to our humanity and livelihood.
Both Rio and Anaís have grown up around the annual Día de Los Muertos exhibition and are part of artistic families who have helped shape the Bay Area’s thriving arts & culture community. Together, they bridge generations and invite longtime participating artists and new, emerging talent to celebrate and honor the dead.
“We are two second-generation artists who grew up watching this exhibit take shape for decades with our families. Our vision for the show aims to embrace the family of artists cultivated by Rene Yañez and an exciting new generation of artists,” says Rio. “This is Anais’ first exhibit as a curator but they have seen this show and its artists come together for as long as I’ve been working on it.”
Every Día de Los Muertos exhibition is dedicated to community members and artists whose legacy has inspired generations and galvanized movements. This year’s exhibition is dedicated to Japanese American poet and educator Janice Mirikitani who advocated for the City’s historically marginalized communities. She was the San Francisco poet laureate from 2000–2002 and she has spent nearly 60 years with Glide Foundation, a “radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization”. Longtime exhibiting artist and community member Beth Benson will be creating an altar in her honor.
To Love and Be Loved in Return: Día de Los Muertos 2022 features 17 artists addressing local, national, and international social justice issues. Returning artists Susana Aragón and Alicia Cruz are both dedicating their respective altars to the children lost in the Uvalde, Texas shootings. As a therapist specializing in adolescent trauma, Alicia intersects her professional and artistic practice to address the institutional violence experienced by children of color. Known throughout the Bay Area for his poetry, arts advocacy, and altars, Adrian Arias honors murdered journalists Francisca Sandoval and Shireen Abu Aqleh.
The exhibition’s first public unveiling since 2019 will be held at SOMArts on Friday, October 7, 6–9 PM. Along with the evening’s program and curatorial remarks, SOMArts will be announcing the launch of the René Yañez Legacy Fund, which will go toward supporting emerging Bay Area artists and caring for the SOMArts’ garden that was started by René. This event is a free, all ages event with a $10 suggested donation.
“I hope that as viewers see all the love that was poured into each altar, they will feel called to remember the love they felt for people who have passed, whether it was a family member, friend, or a public figure that inspired them. I hope they remember that though the person may be gone, the love is still alive,” shares Anaís Azul.