Our group selected these two photos because we felt they best represented the healing nature of the ofrenda practice and experience of Dia de los Muertos. The first photo from our own group 1 ofrenda titled “Mourning from a Distance” highlights a dedication to a brother that was lost during COVID-19 and never properly mourned in person due to restrictions at the time. The second photo features culture bearer Francisca Garcia as she is lovingly remembered by her family and community.
Since these photos visualize the healing process, we chose them to represent the category of ceremonial/healing from the four categories we’ve learned about from Amalia Mesa-Bain’s work. The process of creating an ofrenda and remembering a loved one through objects from their life is a healing practice through remembrance.
Me (Jade) and the team, Gabrielle Sanchez, Elijah Rainey-Gibson, Nora Medina, Elda Theodros, got to work setting up our boxes, securing the table cloth, and making paper cutouts. The theme of our ofrenda is the social death as a result of the criminality of immigration at the border. We made tiny yellow hearts on the friend that with the names done of the victims of this social death. To our right, as we set up, we can see the guest singer Black Mama, warming up her vocals and testing the sound system as the rest of the team sets up the zoom panel meeting technology. Each group member brought a price of the ofrenda, each component symbolizing a different element. Bowls of water to represent water. Paper cuttings on a string to represent air, candles to represent fire, and flowers to represent the earth. We all bring a price to pull together the final Ofrenda!
Photo of the Plaza Roberto Maestas ofrenda taken by John Petrovich (Group 8) at El Centro de La Raza in Seattle, Washington for Dio de Los Muertos.
Coming into El Centro it was apparent the excitement of the middle schoolers who were standing in front of their ofrenda, taking pictures and saying “frijoles.” Everyone here here can feel the energy in the air. We are remembering those who left this earth temporarily and celebrating their momentary return.
The after school program commissioned this ofrenda to celebrate the indigenous history that is inextricably tied to this deeply rooted cultural tradition of Day of the Dead. Among the colorful fabrics and flowers you will find Loteria cards, the significance of which demonstrate that even in the hardest times, you can always find happiness and balance through traditions that bring you back to your culture. After all, “La Cultura Cura.”