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IU Northwest gallery exhibit features altars in recognition of the Mexican tradition of Dia de Los Muertos

Art gallery exhibit open to the public until Monday, Nov. 1


Dia de Los Muertos altar featured at IU Northwest’s Gallery for Contemporary Art.

Christopher Sheid/IU Northwest Office of Marketing and Communications
Dia de Los Muertos altar featured at IU Northwest’s Gallery for Contemporary Art.

The ancient Mexican tradition Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is being celebrated through art at Indiana University Northwest’s Gallery for Contemporary Art, located in the Savannah Center.

The exhibit will come to a close on Monday, Nov. 1, following a reception hosted by the gallery from noon until 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the campus community and the public.

Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition in which, a few days prior to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, celebrated on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, families and friends of the deceased create altars as a sign of reverence. The traditional belief is that the altars, decorated with the deceased’s favorite foods, drinks, and smells, will bring back the spirits and souls of their loved ones.

Gallery Director Ann Fritz asked local artists to create altars to be publically displayed at the IU Northwest Gallery for Contemporary Art. Her interest in this exhibit is to raise awareness and understanding of the Mexican tradition.

Fritz mentioned that in most cases the artists went beyond the traditional altars one would see in Mexico.

“There are sculptures and paintings within the show,” she added. “Some are more traditional, while others took a more modern interpretation.”

The altars, constructed by the living for the dead, include photographs, personal items, small sculptures and festive decorations, as well as various symbolic items.

Fritz explained one of the most unique altars in the exhibit was designed by Felix Maldonado of East Chicago.

“Up until the death of Felix’s grandparents, he would go out to eat with them at one of their favorite restaurants,” Fritz said. “So when I contacted him, an obvious choice for him was to recreate the table in the restaurant. In fact, Felix was so excited about the concept that he even contacted the restaurant and they supplied him with a table cloth from the restaurant. Interestingly, the table in the restaurant looks out into the graveyard where Felix’s grandparents rest, (and) that element was also incorporated into his altar.”

Visitors to the exhibit can see a photograph of the exact table Felix recreated.

An altar has also been created in honor and recognition of Associate Professor of Communication Jim Tolhuizen, who passed away on Friday, Oct. 1.

Guests attending the reception on Monday, Nov. 1, will be greeted with the sounds, food and drink of Mexico.

The artists in the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit include: Llee Heinsen of Winamac, Ind.; Deborah Landry of Porter; Suzanne Cohan-Lange of Chicago; Gordon Ligocki of Winamac, Ind.; Felix Maldonado of East Chicago; Ish Ismael Muhammad Nieves of Hammond; Eric Osborne of Lincolnshire, Ill.; Bill Pozzo of Valparaiso; Patrick Rodriguez of Gary; and Gene Whisler of Chesterton.

The IU Northwest Gallery for Contemporary Art is open to the public Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The gallery is located in the Savannah Center neighboring the IU Northwest Book Store.

The mission of the IU Northwest Gallery for Contemporary Art is to present an innovative exhibition program that complements and enhances the university's academic offerings.

Exhibit art collections are for study and research, and are also meant to educate the university community, as well as the general public, about the forms and issues of contemporary and historic art from all cultures.

For more information, contact Gallery Director Ann Fritz at (219) 980-6891 or afritz@iun.edu.

Published: 

Media Contact

Emily Banas
Office of Marketing & Communications
980-6536
ebanas@iun.edu

Charles Sheid
Office of Marketing & Communications
980-6802
ccsheid@iun.edu

Related Links

Gallery for Contemporary Art


Additional Article Photos

Christopher Sheid/IU Northwest Office of Marketing and Communications
Dia de Los Muertos altar created by Felix Maldonado of East Chicago as a tribute to his grandparents.

Christopher Sheid/IU Northwest Office of Marketing and Communications
Dia de Los Muertos altar featured at IU Northwest’s Gallery for Contemporary Art.