Dia de los Muertos Festival

On Sunday, the dead rise in Tacoma and the Tacoma Art Museum is celebrating with their free Dia de los Muertos Community Festival on November 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This is the eighth year the TAM has celebrated the traditional Mexican holiday, which has grown to be its largest annual community event with over 3,700 attendees according to a press release. The plan is to have art, musicians, food, and performances from the community.

Artist Fulgencio Lazo, who hails from both Oaxaca and Seattle, worked with the community to create a tapete (sand painting) in the museum lobby. The painting features floral accents to coincide with the upcoming “Andy Warhol: Flowers for Tacoma” exhibit. Visitors will also get a chance to decorate sugar skulls and terracotta pots.

Altars have been created for the event by various community organizations, including representatives from UWT. Some of the altars are artful celebrations, while others feature thoughtful remembrances of loved ones who have passed on. All are lavishly decorated by local artists.

The altar created by UWT was created with the help of Global Studies student Heidi Vladyka, Spanish instructor Augie Machine, and Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American studies professor Dr. Cynthia Duncan who has held Dia de los Muertos festivities on campus before.  This year they decided to devote their altar to Mexican author Carlos Fuentes who passed away May 15. Vladyka had studied abroad in Mexico and saw altars there which helped inspire the artistic vision of the altar which portrays Fuentes’ passage into the land of the dead while other authors wish him well. Aspects of the altar include an arch of marigolds, which are important to the tradition of the Day of the Dead. Vladyka said she enjoyed working on something amongst such a large gathering of local Tacoma Hispanic culture: “I’d like to see more people [from UWT] work on it next year.”

Centro Latino and Proyecto MoLÉ are the big community partner organizations teaming up with TAM to put on the event. Music will be provided by Mariachi Ayutla and a dance performance by Grupo Quetzalcoatl de Olympia.

Photos by Andy Cox.

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