Local ofrendas inspired by memories

Nov 11, 2016.  Every celebration of Día de los Muertos becomes an exhibition of local talent and tradition. This year we had very talented local artists and organizations who participated making the ofrendas and sharing with the community their ideas, knowledge and personal dedications. The “ofrendas” are traditional offerings honoring the lives of those loved ones who have departed. Learn more here about the meaning of each one of the ofrendas displayed.

“Ofrendas from Pre-Hispanic Mexico”

By Selene Hernandez, Diana Alonso y Elizabeth Abanero.  In every culture of Pre-Columbian Mexico, the dead and the place for them had a central role.

For this reason, during the burial practices of the aztecs, mayas, toltects, and zapotecs, there was always a special place for the ofrendas. The ofrendas function to assist the deceased on their journey and to defeat the enemy forces that hinder the soul from reaching their final destination, the Mictlán. The Mictlán was the underworld of the Aztec mythology and the place of the dead. The most suitable conditions for the dead to travel to the Mictlán was to preserve the underworld.

The journey to Mictlán lasted four years. Upon arrival of their destination, the traveler offered gifts to the lords of Mictlán: Mictlantecuhtli (lord of the dead) and his partner Mictecacíhuatl (Lady of the inhabitants of the enclosure of the dead). In the pre-Columbian cultures death was embraced with respect and without fear.  Their culture and knowledge revolved around the life-death duality. In the tombs found in the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, there were funeral offerings with pottery, burial urns incense, animal bones, etc. This offering is a representation of a pyramid of Pre-Columbian Mexico and the fundamental elements of the ofrenda to the dead: marigolds, water, copal, vases, skulls and skeletons.


“For My Family”

By Beka Butts. For this year’s Day of The Dead I wanted to do a traditional altar for the people who have shaped me, my family, specifically my Grandparents.  As a multicultural artist, maker, and illustrator, I have taken inspiration from both of my cultures. I grew up influenced by my Mexican-American and Southern-American upbringing, finding common ground between the cultures more often than differences.  Things like family, character, kindness, music, and food tie both sides of my family together.

Both of my Grandfather’s fought for their country in WWII, and though I never met my Father’s Father, I’ve painted a picture from stories and memories shared with me, of a kind and strong man.

My Mother’s Father and I had an amazing relationship, he wasn’t always the most social person, but he always had time for long talks and inside jokes with me. Both of my grandmother’s gave everything they had to their families, with deep wells of kindness, love, encouragement, and support for their kids and grand kids. My Grandmother’s also showed their love through food, so much of my cultural identity is tied up with the food they served me, whether it was homemade tortillas or biscuits, menudo or fried chicken, or arroz dulce or pound cake, all were illustrations of love. With this ofrenda, I will honor them, and celebrate my unique perspective and culture, gifted by them, to me.


“In honor of Ron Miller”

By Ivan Saul Cutler, Wendee Miller Cutler and Alexa Rose Cutler, a Catrina Hermosa. With honor, we remember San Franciscan Ron Miller, connected to Greensboro through his sister Wendee Miller Cutler, her husband Ivan Saul Cutler and daughter Alexa Rose Cutler, a Catrina Hermosa. Ron died on December 2013, leaving many loving memories, a treasured inhereritance for all who knew him.

Of his material possessions, Ron’s professional photographic equipment benefited Casa Azul, allowing Ivan to photograph Día de Los Muertos in 2014 and 2015. Ron’s Ofrenda serves as respectful pictorial representation of all excitement, splendor and joy of past Días de Los Muertos. Casa Azul and Greensboro benefits from Ron Miller, living through his photographic equipment bringing the blessings of joy.


“Latino Family Center Ofrenda”

By Latino Family Center LEAD: Martha Zepeda & Maria Luisa Gonzalez, Latino Family Center’s Avance Youth Group, High Point University Spanish Service Learning Group and Latino Family Center Staff.
This ofrenda is in memory of Alexis Resendez Martinez, Ednia Hernandez, Guadalupe Martinez, Angel Pineda Guevara, and Joseph Dyer. These individuals are being honored as family members of the Latino Family Center’s youth group, Avance, who have passed away recently. The altar represents memories that our loved ones left behind and that we carry with us every day.


“FRIDA” Day of the Dead – Celebration of Life

By Omar Guerrero, Gabriel & Verenisse Ortiz, and Leonel Vega. Like the memory of a loved one that never fades, Día de Los Muertos also survives. It may change and evolve, but it never vanishes. The Spaniards learned that fact when they arrived in central Mexico in the 16th century. They viewed the ritual, which was started by the Aztecs some 3,000 years ago, as sacrilegious. But the festival couldn’t be quashed.

The Days of the Dead are celebrated in many Latin American countries but nowhere to the extent like they are celebrated in Mexico. El Día de los Muertos (also referred to as Día de Todos los Santos) in Mexico is a joyous and sacred time, a time to welcome the souls of the dead; it is a celebration in which the living and the dead are joined if even for a short while. In some ways it is a triumph over death and therefore becomes a celebration of life. Deceased loved ones are given back to families and friends if only for a brief time.

Today we are celebrating the life of the Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo, who was born on July 6, 1907 in the house of her parents, known as La Casa Azul (The Blue House), in Coyoacan, a small suburb in Mexico City. During her lifetime Frida Kahlo went through many difficult times, from The Mexican Revolution in 1910 to the suffering of many chronic health problems, and her stormy marriage with famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera. But the things Frida Kahlo is remembered for are her strong personality and her full-time career as an artist. Her self-portraits became a dominant part of her life. Frida Kahlo once said, “I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best.”


“In honor of ‘Stimp’ Hawkins” A CAN-NC Café Mortal Ofrenda

By Lia Miller, Martha Taylor, Deborah Parker, Suki Sur, Susan Sassman, Brenda Bergeron and Ivan Cutler. This ofrenda is in memory of James Stimson “Stimp” Hawkins who died peacefully at his home on June 16, 2016 at the age of 82. After working as a church minister for more than 17 years, he joined Hospice of WS and quickly became interested in end of life issues. Though he retired in 2014, he continued to be extremely active throughout the community.

In January 2015, he helped Creative Aging Network-NC launch the Café Mortal program, an informal gathering to address the changing attitudes surrounding death and dying. Serving as the monthly facilitator, Stimp comfortably and openly addressed his own wishes surrounding death and dying. These wishes were respected and implemented beautifully by his wife, Martha and their family, setting the gold standard for how it should be done. Stimp was a genuine, open-minded, loving soul who served as a role model for many. He is greatly missed.


“Pink Potola”

By Socorro Hernandez-Hinek. This ofrenda is a tribute to my Tia Chabelita, Isabel Hernandez, my father’s younger sister.
Her favorite color was always pink and she loved sweets. The altar resembles her small dressing table and the curling shapes that surround it imitate the fancy design on her front door to her house.  She was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1913, to a family of musicians. The black ceramic violins symbolize her Mother and Father watching over her, Herlinda and Cenobio Hernandez.


“To our grandparents whom we left in Mexico”

By Reynaldo Hurtado Paz y Dolores Basaldúa. This ofrenda is dedicated to our grandparents who we left in Mexico and who are in our hearts.