A Poke Ghost and the Garden of Tearz · Rodolfo Marron III

The mythology of the Huichol people of Mexico is a touchstone of Rodolfo Marron’s installation, A Poke Ghost and the Garden of Tearz, which incorporates an altar and narrative cycle of drawings devoted to Ella the deer.

Ella the deer lived in Elmwood Cemetery in Kansas City’s Northeast neighborhood, where she was a popular attraction until she was shot and killed in 2013.

“The deer is a very prominent animal in Huichol peyote culture," Rodolfo Marron explained. “My work deals with death and the afterlife and grieving, and the folklore of what she’s doing after her death.”

At one point in the story, Ella hooks up with Marron’s signature “poke ghost” character, a creation inspired, he said, “by the Native American practice of consuming pokeberries to purge themselves of bad energy.” The two embark on a spiritual journey to meet the Huichol sun god.

Marron says both characters represent different facets of himself: “Ella represents the softer, unaware side of me. The Poke Ghost is my darker, misguided self with good intentions.”