The people behind the painted faces

All Souls: Using grief to create connections

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - On Sunday, tens of thousands of people gathered in downtown Tucson and marched in honor of those who have passed on.

Leading up to the enormous “All Souls Procession”, participants and business owners were busy all day preparing.

Gina Castillo had several face painting stations set up behind Mariscos Chihuahua on Grande Ave and West Speedway Boulevard. She started her business; Glitter Girl AZ, following the death of her mother five years ago.

“I started doing activities for Day of the Dead as a way to connect with my mom in a positive way,” she said. “I was looking at all of these boxes [of my mom’s things] at my house and it was really depressing so I started jeweling skulls with the jewelry from my mom's collection. Day of the Dead came, and people said, ‘Do you face paint?’ So, I went out and started face painting in the street.”

Castillo spends time learning each client’s story so she can represent their lost loved ones in her work.

One customer, Nicole Worrier, asked for a pink, purple and blue butterfly in memory of her son. “[He passed away] on September 21st, 2015,” she said. “Pink and purple are my favorite colors and blue was his. [After he died] I started seeing all kinds of butterflies. Even in the hospital, people were bringing me butterflies, it symbolizes loss in a lot of cultures.”

“I'm very sorry for your loss,” Castillo consoled Worrier as she painted her face. “I know it's hard, I lost some close people too.”

Face painting is not only therapeutic for Castillo, but for her clients as well.

“I lost my husband of 44 years two and a half years ago and my father passed away soon after that at 97,” said Linda Capal. “My only son passed away this summer at the age 40. So, I need to have that spiritual connection with them … wherever they are.”

“This helps their relationship with that person,” said Castillo. “They are continuing their relationship with that person while they [paint their face] and prepare for the procession.”

Already, Worrier says she feels closer to her son, adding this day is mystical. “[In my head, I can] hear him laughing,” she said. “He is in my heart. Sometimes you’ll feel a little sadness but it’s a way to connect ... especially when you hear other people’s stories. You’re not alone!”

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