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. Theofrendas 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.