For over ten years now, the Tacoma Art Museum has been embracing the long-lasting Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos.
With the increasing Hispanic population the holiday is becoming more and more popular in the Puget Sound region.
Early in the morning on October 21, families, individuals and college and university groups came to the museum to create traditional altars that recalled their passed love ones.
It is believed the spirits come on Dia de los Muertos to comfort loved ones mourning their loss. The altars are a way to welcome those spirits.
Altars represent heaven, earth and the purgatory; in other traditions of Mexico, people believe that they can represent hell too.
Photos of the deceased are placed on the altar, along with photographs and figures of saints to encourage the purification of their souls.
Offerings of items that the deceased liked are also placed there to help their souls get the strength necessary to make the long trip to earth.
To understand Dia de los Muertos you have to understand the history behind it. The celebration was first hosted by the Aztecs and other ancient tribes.
Dia de los Muertos decorations often feature “La Calavera Catrina” or “The Elegant Skull” meant to manifest the respect and grace of death. “La Catrina” is often shown as a happy symbol that represents that the death could surprise us at any time and we have to be graceful and happy on earth, as she is.
Fulgenzio Lazo, an artist from Oaxaca, Mexico, joined with local high school students create a carpet made of sand, a Dia de los Muertos tradition in his home state.
On Sunday November 4th the Tacoma Art Museum hosted a public reception to display the altars.