Unapologetically Chingonx – Group 5 Dia De Los Muertos Midterm

Social Critique Category:


Pictured: Group altar honoring the murdered women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Bottom quote says, “”Este Cuerpo es Mio, No se Toca, No se Viola, No se Mata!” Top quote says, “No Mas Femicidio/No More Femicide”.  Photograph taken by Clarissa Suarez at Dia De Los Muertos event at Centro De La Raza, 11/02/2017.

We incorporated the theme of monarch butterflies representing unity and transition or movement without borders. Likewise we critique male-domination in the church through the pink and black cross with the female sex symbol and a raised fist in the middle, this was inspired from the women’s march that occurred after these murders in Mexico.


Pictured: Skeletons dressed in traditional Mexican clothing sitting at dinner table surrounded by cultural paintings and an altar. Photograph taken by Clarissa Suarez at the Dia De Los Muertos event at El Centro De La Raza, 11/02/2017

This particular art exhibition had no background information, but I personally believe it fit the category of domestic space because it shows a man and woman skeleton at the dinner table, so they are spending quality time together.

In addition, this picture fits the category of domestic space and identity because in the background there is an altar with a photo of the Virgen de Guadalupe; in a way this shows the traditional family settings in Mexican culture around the time of Dia de Los Muertos celebration.

Healing Category:

Dia De Los Muertos

Pictured: Altar dedicated to the victims of the shooting in Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Poem reads, “The Latin gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community wishes to honor our dearly departed ones. HIV/AIDS is not the only cause of death, we are also victims of violence, homophobia, discrimination, fear, and we must not forget, natural causes. In order to prevent those types of deaths, let us fight against violence, discrimination, homophobia, and the fear of all that is different within our society”. Photograph taken by Anthony Runestrand during set-up at El Centro De La Raza, 10/31/2017

I saw the man putting the altar together, I recognized him from the hill but I unfortunately was not able to talk to him. On the Thursday (Dia De Los Muertos) I did not see him at the altar or throughout the exhibit; I would have enjoyed talking to him and thanking him for the ofrenda. As seen in the picture each votive candle is wrapped with the face of each individual life lost in the shooting; these loved ones may be gone but their spirits are still alive and I hope they continue to dance.  This altar helps to heal and remind us that we are all precious people deserving of life on this earth.

Identity & Social Critique Category:


Pictured: Poet Claudia Castro Luna and her altar dedicated to the murdered women of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photograph taken by Gema Soto-Marquez at Dia De Los Muertos event at El Centro De La Raza, 11/2/2017.

The imagery she used was purposefully feminine presenting in order to convey the fact that is this a gendered issue, it is a result of patriarchy and therefore an identity claim to femininity as Latinas within this holiday is a form of resisting and critiquing the politics surrounding violence against mujeres in our communities.


Claudia Castro Luna: After seeing her altar, I continued to talk to her to find out she is from El Salvador and has practiced Dia De Los Muertos ever since she came to the U.S. to keep in touch with her roots. “It reminds me of mi abuela,” she says. She also has been very eager to participate at this event and this was her first time presenting an altar at El Centro De La Raza. She hopes to continue to use art as part of her activism and to engage in conversations that revolve around issues she cares about such as femicide.

Steven from People of Color Against Aids Network: Steven was the representative for POCAAN at the event and had created their altar to be presented in the exhibition. When asked what POCAAN wanted to convey in their altar, Steven talked about how it’s based off the struggles people of color face by being disproportionately affected by HIV. Many queer people of color have died from it, including activist Victor Rivera, who’s picture was on display on their altar as a memorial to him.

Every picture we chose to highlight we had an emotional attachment to. The domestic space element seen in the 2nd picture has a comforting familiarity. The altar of the Pulse victims was critical because in this ceremony of remembrance, we can heal and continue to fight for rights of LGBTQ+ people of color. The interview with POCAAN also highlights health issues QTPOC face. The picture of the altar for the women of Juarez deserves a shout-out for socially critiquing the current state of violence towards Latinas. Claudia Castro Luna’s interview gave us a deeper, personal perspective of the feminista behind that altar. Through acknowledging the existence of these marginalized communities, we can resist.

Links to Live Blog Posts:

Part 1: https://womenwhorockcommunity.org/2017/11/03/unapologetically-chigonx-queering-altar-making/

Part 2: https://womenwhorockcommunity.org/2017/11/03/unapologetically-chigonx-pt-2-ending-the-night-with-indigenous-ritual/

Unapologetically Chigonx – Pt. 2 Ending the Night with Indigenous Ritual

The night ended with Aztec dancers in the rain, I’m currently soaked and freezing but there is a radiating warmth coming from within. From seeing how personal every altar was, to the mole, to familiar faces in my community, this whole experience was so positive and healing and necessary. It is necessary for people to practice such a sacred day, I could tell in their laughter during skits and the screams and applause at the very end of  the night. What really got to me was during the Aztec dance, a great roar of thunder greeted us, an acknowledgment of the skies and ancestors of our presence. It was a beautiful moment perfectly showcasing the communication we have with nature, within our community and with the dead.

Unapologetically Chigonx – Queering Altar Making

I love seeing all the different representations of the queer communities of color, it makes my heart full but with that also heavy to see all the innocent lives lost to systems of oppression whether that be homophobia or no access to health education and resources. It definitely is a reminder that altares are inherently political, as they are a form of resistance against colonialism and sharing narratives that would otherwise go unnoticed by society at large and the governing state. I really feel such a spiritual connection to the art and altares in the very heavy topics they convey in the most beautiful and eye-catching manner, so as to show the beauty in resistence, the beauty in exsistance, the beauty of life, and how the tragedy of death can begin to heal through acknowledging the preciousness of life, and how we must work on constructing these narratives to move towards a better society so that these lives can be respected while living too.