Thesis Completed!

5/11/12 – Black Calavera presents The Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration and the Economy of the Skull in Popular Culture. 

53,876 views, 111 followers and 102 comments later and I finally completed my thesis!. At the beginning of the year, I decided to start a research blog just to document all my notes and visual observations for the written thesis as well as my honours project, I never thought that Black Calavera would grow this much in the space of eight months! Each day I have been collecting images of the skull in fashion, advertising, photography, contemporary and graphic design; these images were meticulously posted to the blog on a day to day basis. now i’m completely obsessed, I now have a skull collection that is continually growing each week!


Well…what have I discovered from the research project? The skull is popular than ever before, from window displays to billboards, the skull has become completely unavoidable. So does the skull even have any symbolic meaning anymore? In a way the skull has been reproduced to the extent where the image is removed from it’s association with death or mortality. Perhaps this reflects our fascination with death in the Western Culture or perhaps we feel the need the reproduce the skull in order to withdraw one’s self from the very idea of death.The skull appears to a commodity a commercial item that is readily accessible to a mass audience.

So what about the Mexican Day of the Dead Skulls? Well they have increased in popularity in Melbourne, Australia. In local bars, restaurants, shops around the city, I have recognised papier mache, wooden and ceramic skulls from Mexico. On the Day of the Dead, workshops such as the sugar skull work shop at the immigration museum demonstrates that both adults and children were interested in Mexico’s unique celebration with the dead.

What Now?

That is a good question. Well I only have two weeks before the exhibition and the countdown begins! I do not not want to reveal too much information at this particular stage of the project although I will make sure to post some photographs once it’s all completed. I will continue to post research onto the blog of course! and I am hoping to establish a website later on down the track. I plan to use Black Calavera for future projects including future exhibitions and sugar skull making.

There’s so many different possibilities, I don’t know where to start next, heck I still have to learn Spanish and travel to Mexico for the next Mexican Day of the Dead celebration! I’m hoping to collaborate with Sean Breasley on a couple of projects, we’re planning to design our own skull printed t-shirts, which will be awesome, I wont have to keep wearing all these baggy men’s t-shirts. If you don’t know Sean already, check out his blog, it’s really really awesome! Art and design combined into one, what more could you ask for?


I wish to thank all those fantastic people out there who have supported the blog, I can’t believe that it’s grown so quickly. I would also like to thank those who have contributed their own thoughts ideas and thoughts, I couldn’t have done all this work without all of your support! Stay tuned for further updates, there is so much more to come!

Dowling, Faye. The Book of Skulls. Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2011.

4 responses to “Thesis Completed!

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