Museum celebrates dead with Dia de los Muertos
Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 31, 2013 11:10
The Arkansas State University Museum will participate in Dia de los Muertos, the Hispanic celebration of Day of the Dead, by holding its annual celebration in the museum’s main gallery and atrium this Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.
“We wanted to do this event as part of a diversity series,” said Jill Kary, curator of education at the museum. “We like to reach out to the different ethnic communities here in Jonesboro and the surrounding areas and one way we can reach out to the Hispanic community is by celebrating Dia de los Muertos with them.”
The event is done through a collaboration between the museum and other organizations including some found on A-State’s campus and Hispanic Community Services Inc. of Jonesboro, an organization which seeks to help local Hispanics in social, educational, health, legal and cultural areas.
“It’s a day to remember those who have already passed on,” Norma Lopez, afterschool program coordinator for the center said, “whether it be by playing their favorite music, eating their favorite foods or putting their favorite things on an altar with some candles and flowers.”
The group will be creating such an altar in the museum and dedicating it to the spirits of several Latino celebrities, which in the past have included singer-songwriter Selena, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, former popes and famous athletes. Although to some the holiday might seem macabre, Lopez explained that it is actually quite joyful.
“It’s not a sad day typically, it’s more of a happy day to celebrate those who have gone on,” she said.
The organization’s members will also provide homemade tamales for the event, just one of the many other authentic Latin American foods available to guests, including pan de muerto, also known as “bread of the dead;” horchata, a milky rice beverage as well as mango punch and hibiscus tea.
Attendees can expect to participate in many traditional Day of the Dead activities, including making both paper flowers and sombreros, face painting children and adults’ faces to resemble sugar skulls, and Latin American music played on the guitar and sung by Ricardo Puello, a local troubadour. Other activities include assembling skeleton floor puzzles, trick-or-treating in Old Town, a game where guests will be required to find skeletons hiding throughout the museum, and a shadow puppet show at 6 p.m. telling the children’s story “The Dead Family Diaz” by P.J. Bracegirdle.
As part of their Day of the Dead celebrations, the museum is also currently hosting an exhibit entitled “El Cabello: The Horse in Mexican Folk Art.”
“There has been a loving relationship that the Mexican people have had for the horse from the time that the Spanish brought horses over to the New World,” Kary said. “This is a celebration of the Mexican’s love for the horse.”
The exhibit, which includes both pictures and sculptors of horses and related subjects done by Mexican artists, was funded by ExhibitsUSA and Mid-America Arts Alliance and will remain on display until Nov. 27.
Kary said in the past the event has drawn in approximately 200 people, which included not only Hispanics but other ethnicities as well.
“We don’t expect to have just Mexican or Latino people here. We want everyone to come, to bring their children and get to know this fun holiday and experience it with the Latin community,” Kary said. “I want college people to come, I want people with children and nontraditional students to come with their families, and just see all these things and enjoy them. Anyone who comes is going to have a blast.”