Tzompantli Art Exhibit

Fall Greetings!

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a few days away! Fall has slipped by so quickly!

In October I was honored to be asked to join 75 artists in creating a piece of art for a “Tzompantli art Exhibition.” I was especially thankful as I am not Latino and this was a wonderful opportunity for me to create a piece of art outside of my genre.

“En Memoria de mi Madre,
In Memory of My Mother”

For this exhibition, the figure of the pre-Hispanic Tzompantli (row or wall of skulls) and the Day of the Dead, was to be taken as a starting point for the artists.

I created this piece in memory of my mom who passed away in 2019. Since it was a new genre of art for me, I enjoyed the challenge of creating the piece but staying true to my artistic style.

Below is a Curatorial statement that Professor Denise Lugo has been so generous to write about my painting.

The international art exhibition entitled “Tzompantli:  Reflexión Artística 2020” (or,  in. English)“Tzompantli:  Artist’s Reflections 2020” was coordinated by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City. This international exhibition was videotaped and dispatched to all Mexican Consulates globally.  Janell Mithani is a Southern California artist featured along with other international artists who are featured in this unique exhibition.

Janell’s painted “Catrina” Calvera entitled “In Memory of my mother, 2020″ displays her personal colorful aesthetic and creative lens. This canvas’s symbolic foundation is found in ancient Mexican skull symbolism historically tied to the “Tzompantli” (Aztec Skull rack, symbolizing the eternal cycle of life and death), which is reflected in the title of this exhibition. 

Historically speaking, the ancient Aztec-Mayan “Calaveras” (skull) imagery epitomized the spiritual, cultural, and fertility ancestor rituals. At the beginning of the 20th century, the artist Guadalupe Posada recycled such skeletal images to represent the everyday Mexican “magical” reality.

Janell Mithani’s Catrina Calavera is positioned in a frontal pose and painted within a colorful and bright palette outlined within a tightly linear fashion–Janell’s Catrina looks directly at us, the viewer. This linear painting also interweaves ancient Mesoamerican symbolism, depicting the ancient Mesoamerican hairless dog, a spiritual figure that guides the deceased into the underworld. This Catarina figure is beautifully depicted in symbiosis Monarch butterflies, another spiritual motif depicting a journey back to the heart of Mexico.

The artist’s ethereal painted brush is a loving paid homage to her mother and manifested by adding decorative mushrooms. This very colorful canvas functions as a visual embrace created with compassion, empathy, and love that is much needed and highly appreciated in 2020, with our world in the grips of life and death challenges.

Professor Denise Lugo
California State University, Channel Island
Art History Department

Seventy Five pieces of art were created by artists internationally including 24 art pieces from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara artists.

The project was sponsored by the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE-Mexican Embassy) and Institutos de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (IME.)

The Exhibition was propsed and directed by Claudia Montero and Fernanda Alva Ruiz Cabañas, and organized by poet and artist Enedina Castañeda.

Also, Professor Denise Lugo wrote a beautiful curatorial statement for the exhibit which is at the beginning of the video. The website for the project is

Here is a link to the video on YouTube:

Proyecto Artístico Comunitario Internacional: Tzompantli Reflexión artística del año 2020. International Community Art Project: Tzompantli 2020 Artistic Introspection

The Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores and IME (Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior) in Mexico City have sent the video to Mexican embassies all over the world.

Prints of all of the artwork were assembled into an exhibition at the Mexican Consulate in Austin Texas and at the Mexican Consulate in Oxnard, California.

Consulado de Mexico en Austin, TX (Mexican Consulate in Austin, Texas)
Tzompantli Exhibition, Mexican Consulate, Oxnard, CA
Tzompantli Exhibiton, Consulado de Mexico en, Oxnard, CA

And here is my painting as it appears in the video.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my art journey!

I wish you an wonderful, creative day filled with JOY, Janell