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The Latin American and Latino Studies Program Celebrates the Day of the Dead day of the dead

Since 2002, the LALS Program has co-sponsored the UofL campus celebration of El Día de los Muertos, which is organized annually by the Spanish Division of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages. In addition to the campus celebration, the LALS program collaborates with UofL’s Arts and Culture Partnerships to celebrate El Día de los Muertos with area museums. 

In 2006 LALS collaborated with the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft by organizing a panel discussion on El Día de los Muertos.

November 1 - 8, 2008, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (KMAC) and the 21c Museum displayed altars created by UofL students and faculty members of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program, the Hite Art Institute, and the Department of Fine Arts, as well as altars by other artists and community members. This collaboration was directed by Peter Morrin, Director of the UofL’s Arts and Cultures Partnership Initiative, which encourages interactions between the University of Louisville and our city’s museums, historical homes, and other cultural institutions. During the fall semester, meetings were held at KMAC, 21c, and UofL to plan a week-long celebration of the Day of the Dead. The planning committee included members from the university and the community:

1) Arts and Cultures Partnership Initiative: Peter Morrin and Janna Tajibaeva, Program Assistant to the LALS Program

2) Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft: Kevin O’Brien, KMAC Director, Karen Welch, and Brittney Lunsford

3) 21c Museum: William Morrow, Director and Kent Getsinger

4) UofL Hite Art Institute: John Begley, Christopher Fulton, James Grubola, Gabrielle Mayer and Ché Rhodes

5) Latin American and Latino Studies: Rhonda Buchanan, LALS Director

6) College of Arts and Sciences Scholar-in-Residence Luci Mistratov, Designer of LALS Posters

7) Miguel Lagunas, Director of Arco Iris Latino and LALS Committee Member

cesar5In 2008, the LALS program erected a special altar at KMAC to remember César Iván Aguilar Cano, the four-year-old Guatemalan boy whose disappearance from his house near Churchill Downs prompted a massive search that united the entire community. Christopher 2x, the representative of the Cano family and founder of Fight Crimes Against Children Partnerships arranged for Rhonda Buchanan to meet César Iván’s mother Rosalina Cano Quinteros so that she could learn more about César Iván and the way in which the Day of the Dead is celebrated in Guatemala. Based on this interview, students of the LALS program created an altar that displayed César Iván’s portrait and his favorite foods, drinks, and toys. In addition, LALS held a Christmas toy drive to benefit Fight Crimes Against Children Partnerships. The donated gifts were distributed in December to children whose families have been victims of homicide.

The LALS program also collaborated with 21c Museum, where additional altars were erected. Students of ChristopherFrida Fulton’s Mexican Art and Architecture class and several LALS students  paid homage to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo with an altar constructed in the form of a bed, with Frida’s portrait prominently displayed. Gabrielle Mayer and students of the Hite Art Institute (including LAS minor Sarah Oesterly) honored "Las Muertas de Juárez," the many women who have been murdered in Juárez with an installation of suitcases, each of which was a miniature altar representing the final journeys of the victims. Ché Rhodes, Head of the Glass Program, and his students created a unique portal for the spirits to pay a visit from the Great Beyond. In addition, Lexington-based artist Robert Morgan created an elaborate site-specific altar that reflected his experiences in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Both the KMAC and 21C altar spaces were adorned with whimsical silk paintings, created by UofL Scholar-in-Residence Luci Mistratov and her students, which were inspired by the Mexican art of cut paper known juarezas papel picado. The evening of November 1st culminated in the blessing of the altars by Father David Sánchez and a candle-lit march that headed down Main Street and passed through 21c before heading back to KMAC. 


Photo provided by the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft:

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