Mictecacihuatl earned the title Lady of the Dead when she was sacrificed as an infant, but California-based photographer Tim Tadder brings her back to life in this haunting photo series called ‘Las Muertas.’ Inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead, the choice of skull-painted women pays subtle homage to the festival’s Aztec roots where Mictecacihuatl, the goddess of the underworld, was worshipped.

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Tadder’s photos, created with the help of makeup artist Krisztianna and costume designer Julia Reeser, are indeed worthy of worship. The vibrant colors of these Persephones mark the subject as important, the symbolism suggesting something deadly and beautiful– but their faces are casual, indifferent, or curious. They walk the land of the dead as its mistresses, but their relationship with their surroundings is impersonal.

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