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/


Dia de los Muertos: Live Blog #2

It’s pouring outside now. The air feels fresh but not cold. It’s filled with the smoke coming from the Aztec danza ritual. And the drums are following the rhythm of my beating Corazon. I feel so connected with the world around me. The drums, the dancers, the rain, the luna llena and the love that is surrounding me by my beautiful soul sisters. All of the sudden there is a loud rumble of thunder that falls from the sky. We felt the sound vibrations run through our bodies and the dancers yelled to the skies. And that’s when we knew that we were all meant to be there in those moments. The night ended beautifully.

Dia de los Muertos: Live Blog

I’ve had a wonderful time so far with the food, the people and the vibes. I did however encounter moments where I found white people taking up space in a POC space. Firstly, the two white women who dressed up as clowns and put on a show, made me a little uncomfortable because I felt it was a very sacred and spiritual space and I didn’t feel like they fit in. Not only were they taking up physical space but also time.

Secondly, there was a group of high school students who came to the event for their Spanish class. Most of them were white. I was standing next to them and they were being so loud and obnoxious with their rude comments. They were attempting to speak Spanish but they were speaking it very sarcastically. They were also taking up physical space. There were so many of them at the front and in seats when they could have offered the elderly women their seat or even allowed members of the community closer to the front.

Lastly, I was walking away and one of the girls said “adios” with attitude and a strong english accent and very sarcastically. Before I left I let them know that the next time they enter POC spaces, to not take up too much space and to be respectful, know their place as white people.

Dia De Los Muertos celebration


Pictured above: The Seattle Fandango Project performing at El Centro de La Raza’s Dia de los Muertos celebration on 11/02/2017. Photo taken by Maria Tracy

Category: Focus on Cultural Identity

The Seattle Fandango Project is performing and sharing their cultural traditions with all the attendees. They were playing their instruments, singing, and dancing. They were celebrating their culture and identities. Those who assisted the event could reminisce or feel joy to partake in something that reminds them of home and family.



Pictured above: Our group’s altar honoring those who passed away crossing the U.S.-Mexico border at El Centro de la Raza’s Dia de los Muertos celebration on 11/02/2017. Photo taken by Karen Gamez.

Category: Ceremonial/healing

Our altar is honoring those who have passed away by celebrating their lives. In a way, we are also doing community healing to help with our pain of losing them. Through our altar, we hope to remember those who lost their their lives attempting to cross the border in search of a better life. Frequently, their families are unaware of their whereabouts. We are also speaking out against the immigration system that does not care about these people.



  1. “The celebration of life and remembering that death is the end of a journey and continuation of another one. Beyond the skulls, there is a history of our ancestors that is passed on. It needs to be recognized and celebrated and passed on” – Nayeli Mercado, 3rd year her family does the altar for Roberto Maestas, the main altar
  2. “It’s a time to remember our dead, to commemorate their life, and to remember that some days are harder than others. It’s a time for you to make your peace. You have a day set aside for mourning every year. It’s a healing process and a healing opportunity” – Connie Muniz: instructor/leader of Folklorico Tonantzin, her group was performing (Mexican folk dance), was wearing a traje tipico de Mexico.


Our group selected the photograph because it showcases convivencia and community building through music and dance. We selected the photo because we wanted to capture our group’s involvement in honoring those who have passed and our participation in promoting our unique cause. We chose to include the interview with Nayeli Mercado because she highlighted that Dia de los Muertos is a cultural event that celebrates death as a state transition instead of mourning it as the end of our journey. We included the interview with Connie Muniz because she focused on the healing aspect of the celebration and altar-building process.

By: Group 2- Stephanie Badillo-Sanchez, Maria Tracy, Karen Gamez

Group 3: Post-DDLM

Group 3’s Altar, Photo Credit: Janet Thomas
Bridge Creation/Altar at DDLM Event, Photo Credit: Angela Kwak
Date: November 2nd, 2017
Location: El Centro de la Raza
Event: Dia de los Muertos, Honoring Those Who Built Bridges Not WallsDate: November 2nd, 2017
Location: El Centro de la Raza
Event: Dia de los Muertos, Honoring Those Who Built Bridges Not Walls


Michael Dixon:
It means from my limited understanding kinda like a unity thing among people. That’s what I’m about too so that’s how I take it. I was a black panther/black student union at UW and we started the office of minority affairs through protest when I was 16. This is what you have to do. You have to overcome, it’s about people. Not just certain kinds of people, it’s about all people. We do better when we stand up for all of us.

Riall Johnson:
It’s a day of honoring the dead. Making sure the people in our lives are never forgotten. Some people don’t like to bring memories of death up and block it out but we want to make sure they are remembered in the right way. This celebration is honoring death and life in the right way and I don’t have a problem remembering death.

Picture/Interview Summary:

The two pictures we chose to upload are one of our group’s altar and one of a bridge that was created by another group for the Dia de los Muertos event. We chose these photos because they represent the theme of the event. Our group’s altar honors trans lives that were lost to violence in 2017 and those trans bodies, people, and lives built bridges to mainstream society and constantly worked to dismantle destructive and dehumanizing representation of trans people. The two interviews we chose were also of people who truly understood what DDLM means while also contributing their own unique interpretations.

Photo Category Summary:

The category we chose for our pictures is Ceremonio/Healing. As a group we felt that this category best fit our pictures as an extension of the theme, honoring those who built bridges not walls. One of our pictures is of a bridge that a group at the event created and the words that are written on them represent healing such as “family”, “love”, and “unity”.

Live-Blog Links:

Group 3 Blog Post #2: The Event!

Group 3 Live Blog Post #1: Setting up!

Original Post Link (UnapoloJJATIC Blog):


Dia de Los Muertos at El Centro de la Raza

Both the photos and interviews we selected provide alternating perspectives on the event. Our photo of the Seattle Fandango Project procession captures the active, momentary side of the event, and the second photo, that of some our class altars, captures the static, reflective side of the event, wherein participants look back to those who have passed away and to those who have been foundational in the production of culture. Likewise, the two interviews we selected provide alternating perspectives: in our interview with Federico Rubiolo, an Argentinian, he discussed how even though Dia de Los Muertos is not celebrated in Argentina he feels that it is a great way to celebrate those who have passed away and that it still resonates with him because he connects with Latinx culture; in our interview with Sam Rojas, a seven-year-old kid, she said that it was a fun and family-oriented way to spend time with extended family as well as others who celebrate the event.


The Seattle Fandango Project leading a musical procession down the hallway of altars at El Centro de la Raza for the Dia De Los Muertos celebration on November 2nd, 2017 (photo credit: Gabrielle Carini)

The photo represents social critique because the photographed crowd are attendees of an event advocating for social change– the idea of “Building Bridges not Walls.” The photographed attendees show their support by listening and preparing to follow the leaders of the musical procession.


These were a few of the altars/ofrendas made by the UW GWSS 451 class presented at the Dia de los Muertos celebration at El Centro de la Raza in Beacon Hill, Seattle on November 2nd, 2017 (photo credit: Gabrielle Carini)

This photo represents ceremonial healing. The ceremonial aspects of spirituality, religiosity, spectacle, and pageantry are expressed on the altars/ofrendas through the display of the traditional elements, vibrant colors, and unique theme of each altar. The combination of these traditional aspects with the creative aesthetics highlights belief, healing, and celebration of the dead.


Live Blog Links:




11/02 Group 7 Live Blog

The aura at El Centro is lively! The altares are located upstairs, while downstairs there are multiple activities for children. The mole feed is also located downstairs. There is not one room that isn’t filled with people. The room that has all the altares is very colorful and a little crammed. There is a group walking down the hall playing their instruments and making beautiful music. Behind them, a group of people are following them as they head downstairs to play their music. Downstairs, the children are getting their face painted, making bracelets, and coloring in pictures of Calaveras. The mole feed is also located downstairs. This room is especially filled with people. Everyone is either in line for food or sitting talking to friends and family.

Group 7 10/31 Live Blog

Everyone is here and ready to set up the altar! As soon as we walked in we were able to get a glimpse of the altares that other groups have set up. Although the only people here are those in class, the room feels lively. Everyone is trying to decide how they want to set up their altar. My group is setting up the altar, which we are going to dedicate to farm workers. The set-up of the altar was very therapeutic. Everyone gathered together to create something that was larger than life. Everything that we were doing had a purpose and allowed us to be creative. Overall, setting up the altar helped those who were creating it see the beauty that death has to offer.

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.