A Light in the Dark: Luminaria and Lantern Traditions of the Southwest Border Regions and Beyond

2019 Visual Arts Project

A Light in the Dark: Luminaria and Lantern Traditions of the Southwest Border Regions and Beyond

Celebrating with Luminaria

A Community Luminaria installation is planned for the 26th Lotus World Music & Arts Festival (Sept. 26-29, 2019), using luminaria made in the course of summer youth workshops within the community. One luminaria-making workshop will be with world renowned papel picado artist, Beatriz Vasquez. Other complementary events will occur throughout the summer and fall to celebrate luminaria traditions of the Southwest border regions and beyond.

What are Luminaria?

Luminaria means festival lights. Several variations of luminaria exist; those created for this project are ones that contain a light source – LED lights, in our case – inside a plain or decorated small paper bag.

We invite all that create luminaria during the community workshops to bring them back to the Lotus Festival this fall to be part of a Community Luminaria illumination ceremony, as well as related events, including: 

  • Luminaria art making at the Arts Village (at 6th and Walnut Streets) and Lotus in the Park (at Waldron, Hill, and Buskirk Park). The Arts Village and Lotus in the Park feature hands-on activities from around the world, and are free and fun for all ages.
  • A lantern walk during the Festival
  • An Installation at IU Eskenazi Art Museum in November
  • A “Community Lights” Poetry Reading in August and November with the theme a light in the dark, collaborating with Social Service Providers and Incarcerated Women with Women Writing for a Change, and the Writers Guild at Bloomington.

Artist Partner

Beatriz Vasquez is a self-taught artist in the Mexican craft of Papel Picado, or perforated paper. The technique, papel picado, is a widely practiced decorative craft in Mexico. After Vasquez graduated in 2006 from Herron School of Art and Design, she discovered that there was a need for more culturally appropriate work and artwork in Indiana. “You can do so many things with paper,” she says. “When I started creating with paper, I really started metaphorically thinking about my work and the indigenous communities where I come from and how vulnerable they really are but strong at the same time.”  Lately, the art world has seemed to have caught on to the resonances of Vasquez’ art. In June, she returned from a series of four residencies in San Francisco. She has also been invited to be an artist-in-residence in Sierra Leone, West Africa, in spring 2019. Vasquez’s experiences in fellowship with other Mexican artists has allowed her to concentrate on the meaning of her work as a Mexican woman and to seek out innovative ways to represent, voice, lead, and express her interests. She says, “I feel I have become a leader to Latino youth and diverse communities in Indiana. Having grown up as an under-privileged Mexican child, I too understand the obstacles overt and covert that easily damage dreams, goals, and aspirations. As a Mexican woman artist, I feel the greatest responsibility to create work that will engage the audience in conversations, stimulate their curiosity, encourage acceptance and empathy for diversity.”

The artists work can be viewed at:



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