Join us October 28 from 2-6pm to celebrate Día de los Muertos, a day especially for families to learn more about the richness of this holiday in Mexican and American culture. Enjoy children's activities from 2-4pm, including hands-on activities and story telling, and from 4-6pm, celebrate the exhibition with music, dancing, traditional folkloric costumed characters, Mexican food, desserts, and beverages. Suggested donation: $3. All ages are welcome.
Days of the Dead Altar Exhibition: October 26 - November 11
This community-centered altar exhibition includes traditional elements of the ancient Latin American holiday, Dia de los Muertos, such as sugar skulls, colorful tissue paper cutouts, and photos or personal items of deceased relatives to honor the souls of the departed.
The holiday has evolved from a blend of Meso-American and Christian cultures, and those traditions come to life with this celebratory exhibition at FWMoA featuring memorials created by artists, families, and community groups from throughout the region.
Dia de los Muertos, a holiday celebrated in Mexico and many parts of Latin America, is considered a festive time when family members remember and honor their dead and the continuity of life. At FWMoA, a series of artist and family-made altars fill a gallery, often honoring deceased loved ones or groups of individuals who have died for a cause or as a result of persecution or injustice. Common symbols include colorful skeletal figures, laughing in the face of death, or the glamorous La Catrina, based on a famous etching by Mexican printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada, which depicts a female skeleton dressed in aristocratic styles of Europeans of her time. This figure satirizes those Mexican natives who Posada felt were over imitating European traditions of the aristocracy in the pre-revolutionary era.
**Are you interested in creating an altar for the 2018 Dias de los Muertos exhibition at FWMoA? This call for entry is open to everyone, regardless of your artistic talent.
Download the application here, then follow the submission instructions!
Interested in sponsoring the Dia de los Muertos 2018? Contact Ashley Stoneburner at 260.422.6467 to learn about the benefits of supporting this event!
What is El día de los muertos (The Day of the Dead)?
Toward the end of October and the beginning of November, a certain love begins to stir in the hearts of indigenous communities of Mexico. A celebration, a feast, a remembrance filled with joy and care enters homes and communities as El día de los muertos is observed. For indigenous communities of Mexico, the day commemorates a yearly ritual of remembering loved ones who have passed away, and exist as spirits just beyond the earthly realm. For aboriginal communities, there is a kinship obligation to loved ones that remains unbroken even after death. During the festivities that take place at the end of October and beginning of November (a period that coincides with the completion of the maize cultivation cycle), indigenous families believe that the spirits of their loved ones can return by their side if they facilitate their homecoming by engaging in specific rituals: visiting their place of rest, laying a path of flowers from the cemetery to their homes, lighting candles. In addition, families honor the memory of their departed loved ones by dedicating a space in the home just for them—the space is an altar or a memorial that includes food, crafts, articles of belonging, pictures, and flowers, among other things. These objects reinforce memory because family members remember their loved ones; for example, what foods they ate, what articles they wore, or the favorite drink. Stories are told about them too so as to not forget. These actions also reinforce connection across generations as new family members learn about those who have preceded them. Great care is given to this ritual of remembering because in the process the loved ones are reunited for a period of time. It is important to understand that this sense of kinship responsibility conveys the cultural value of family—cherished, respected, and honored across time and forms of existence. In this way, love is a bond reinstated by memory and ritual.
In 2008, this indigenous festivity was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Do only indigenous communities celebrate El día de los muertos?
No. In Mexico, people observe the day across the country. These people vary in racial and religious affiliations. They also can observe it in a variety of ways. For example, Catholics observe the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1st, and All Souls’ Day on November 2 by visiting cemeteries, laying flowers, and attending mass. In addition, Mexican American families in the United States also observe the Holiday.
Do only Mexicans observe El día de los muertos?
No. Many cultures have rituals for observing the memory of loved ones who have passed away. In Latin America and Spain, Catholicism influenced the manner that this remembrance is carried out. But in general people visit cemeteries and bring flowers.
Is El día de los muertos a worship of the dead and in conflict with Christian practice?
It is important to always consider the intent of those who observe El día de los muertos. In general, people are simply trying to establish a loving connection with their loved ones who have passed way. Universally all people experience the loss of a loved one at some point in their life. The manner that people react to the loss is defined by personal need, religious belief, and cultural practice. Some cultures do not talk about their deceased loves ones because it hurts too much. Others talk about their loved ones often in order to remain connected with them, to not forget them, to keep them close to mind and heart.
What are the elements
of the memorial or altar?
There may be many different objects on an altar, and these are some of the most widely used:
Candles: these light the way and guide the dead to their offering. White or black candles are used when the ofrenda is for an adult, and bright colors are used for children.
Limestone: White dust made of limestone is placed in straight lines in front of the altar to help guide the soul to their altar.
Flowers: Altars are traditionally decorated with wild flowers in yellow, red, orange, and purple colors.
Green Cross: A wooden cross painted green is placed on the altar to represent the ceiba tree, which symbolizes the universe.
Jícara Bowls: These are made from the jícara gourd which has been dried out so it can be used as a container.
Thank you to PFW Associate Professor of Spanish Karla Zepeda for her contributions to this information!