Senior artists, or “Goldens,” of the Bihl Haus Arts GO! Arts Program at the Normoyle Community Center have been busy constructing a Diá de Los Muertos Altar to honor the life of their deceased loves ones under the guidance of arts instructor Jane Madrigal.
The Goldens will put the finishing touches on their altar at 10 a.m. Friday, October 26 to be included in the Diá De Los Muertos Celebration Altar Contest at La Villita. Judges will choose their favorites from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, October 27. Those altars will be featured online for Fan Favorite selection beginning at 1 p.m.
Winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday, October 28. The public can vote for their favorites at www.muertosfest.com/#contest.
Gloria Ovalle, a golden artist, said that Diá de los Muertos signifies the remembrance and welcoming back of her deceased loved ones on that day.
“It's a way of reconnecting and honoring them,” Ovalle said. “The way I do that is by setting up an altar to welcome them back with offerings of candles, photos, pan de muerto, papel picado, water and other items specific to that person, child or pet.”
“To be part of this tradition gives me a sense of great fulfilment,” she added. “It is a tradition that dates back for many years, coming from the indigenous people of Mexico. It gives me great pride to thank Jane Madrigal, our art teacher at Normoyle Community Center, for getting us involved in this project.”
From pre-Columbian times, the Day of the Dead has been celebrated throughout Mexico and Latin American countries. Today it is celebrated throughout the Americas on November 1 and 2, a time in which the living lovingly pay tribute and remember their departed friends and family members, according to the festival website. Remembrances include family visits to the local cemetery, processions through town squares and inventive homemade altars honoring departed family members with photos, “pan de muerto” sweet bread and flowers.
“It's interesting because none of our Normoyle Goldens knew anything about Diá De Los Muertos even though some of them are very religious,” said Kellen McIntyre, Bihl Haus Arts executive director. “It will also bring out their families to celebrate and support them at this event. It's truly a life changing experience that has brought these ladies closer together as they remember and honor the memory of their mothers, fathers, grandparents and community.”