a bridge between the living and the dead
November 1, 2021 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Ofelia Esparza, artist and altarista, speaks with Yes! Magazine on Día de los Muertos altars in the year 2021 (bonus video; bonus photo essay). "The first death, is the day that we give our last breath, the day that we die. And the second death is the day that we are buried, never to be seen on the face of the Earth again. And the third, but the most dreaded death of all, is to be forgotten." (transcript from the National Endowment for the Arts)

And yes, she was consulted for the 2017 Disney film Coco. See also her altar for the Becoming Los Angeles exhibition..
posted by spamandkimchi (6 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Good luck with la guerra en el Dia de Muertos.

The LA Times has a digital altar this year.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:26 PM on November 1, 2021

Thank you for posting! I've grown up with Dias de los Muertos, as a small local custom in the old graveyards in LA and neighboring cities, and as it slowly became more well know. The work of local artists and the folks at Self Help Graphics to promote and educate about this ritual is terrific.
It is not a quaint 'variation' on Halloween, but I'm glad they do both occur near each other-- the US, in particular, needs some reminders of other worlds and practices. After a pagan night of treats and play, it's lovely to have this day of remembrance.
It is galling to hear, again and again, how Disney/Big Corp wants to trademark a cultural expression, or to include some product placement.
posted by winesong at 2:14 PM on November 1, 2021

So beautiful.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:51 PM on November 1, 2021

It's definitely becoming more and more popular and commercial. The commercial side is not-great, but the popularity of the concept is generally good, IMO. I work at a fancy-pants garden center in Chicago, and we get people looking to buy marigolds in late October... which is a dicey prospect. Marigolds will last into November in this climate if they're well established, but in transplant pots? We usually only have a few scraggly ones left. This year, we started digging them out of our display planters and sold them for $1 a piece to people who ask as a gesture of good will.
posted by SoberHighland at 3:48 PM on November 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Remembering the Dead is not a bad thing. Someone in my extended family in Michoacan posted a photo of their altar and my Dad, who passed away recently, is on there. It did make me tear up a bit to see him.
posted by vacapinta at 4:07 AM on November 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

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