The ancient Mexican Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) tradition will be celebrated with art, music, dance, historical perspectives and refreshments at Indiana University Northwest on October 26 from in the Gallery Northwest and Auditorium in Tamarack Hall.
A special treat for the third annual celebration, will include a performance by the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago in the Tamarack Auditorium at 7 P.M. This event, made possible through a grant from the National Endowments of the Arts/Heartland Arts Fund, presented to Dr. Anna Osan, assistant professor of Spanish, will also feature a workshop and a lecture at 6 P.M. about the history of Mexico re-told through the dances of the different Mexican states.
Día de Los Muertos is an ancient festival that can be traced back to the Aztec culture with November1st and 2nd as the traditional days to celebrate. The First of November is known as “Night of the Angels,” and it is believed that on this day the spirits of infants and children are reunited with loved ones. It is also believed that on All Souls Day, November 2, deceased adults come back to visit their families. Depending on the region in Mexico, as well as the United States, the way Día de Los Muertos is celebrated varies. In urban areas, festivities tend to be more of a social event, while persons living in rural areas may place more of an emphasis on the religious/spiritual aspects of the holiday.
Currently on display in Gallery Northwest through Nov. 1, are altars built by Portage and East Chicago high school students, community members and IU Northwest campus community members that serve as a reminder of the lives of deceased loved ones. The altars are constructed by the living for the dead, and can include photographs and personal items of the deceased, and various symbolic items. A reception for the altars will be held prior to the performance on October 26 from 5 - 7 p.m. Several altars have been constructed this year and many will honor faculty and staff who have passed away.
Osan, who received her BA in English, Spanish, French from IU Northwest, and a MA and Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Chicago, garnered the idea for the community-wide Dia de Los Muertos celebration, through her desire for students and community members to take part in the Mexican tradition of building altars to celebrate and honor the deceased. “The development of this exhibit has been a long one,” says Osan, who has worked in conjunction with curator of the exhibit and gallery director Ann Fritz. “It evolved out of my fascination with the way Mexicans view death - as an extension of life, and as another level of greater cosmic order which repeats itself."
Refreshments will also be served. The reception and performance are free and open to the community.
Gallery Northwest is located in Tamarack Hall on the northwest corner of the IU Northwest campus.