The sugar skull is an iconic image that has grown in popularity over the last decade. Originally, sugar skulls were created in Mexico to celebrate el Dia de los Muertos because it was an affordable material that was easily accessible. The designs on those original confection creations became more elaborate as the craft developed over time.
The iconic decorated-skull now permeates most western popular culture, and it creates an evolutionary problem; it must adapt or face extinction. To constantly create something new, an image maker would have to recreate and rearrange the filigree in new ways periodically to maintain that illusion of originality. Unfortunately, it is a mathematical likelihood that there would eventually be no remaining original combinations of patterns and designs left to be depicted. Incidentally, the image saturation caused by the internet expedites this eventuality.
In the evolution of art, there are only a few paths that a image maker can take: 1. Create retrospective reproductions of known creations, 2. Challenge the existing parameters of accepted symbols and designs with new combinations, or 3. Change the basic forms completely.
Brian Mohler is changing the basic forms completely by proposing a new idea of what can be defined as a skull. His work contains a coherent and cohesive expansion and redesign of known sugar-skull iconography in an interesting and imaginative way. However, Brian’s art begs one question in our minds:
Is it Day of the Dead art or Not?
What do you think? Click the images to see more.