TAM hosts Día de los Muertos community festival, Nov. 6

Grab your friends and family and visit Tacoma Art Museum on Sunday, Nov. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the colorful and lively Día de los Muertos celebration. The museum’s most popular free festival of the year offers an array of cultural activities including live mariachi music, dancing, hands-on art making, face painting and more.

Lighted alebrijes (Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures) by artists Ruben Castillo and Oscar Becerra. Credit: Consulado de México en Seattle /  Tacoma Art Museum

Lighted alebrijes (Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures) by artists Ruben Castillo and Oscar Becerra. Credit: Consulado de México en Seattle / Tacoma Art Museum

New features this year include a free youth workshop (limited capacity, sign up at event), lighted alebrijes (Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures) and a metal folk-art activity. Nearly thirty community altars will be on view. The mesmerizing centerpiece is a tapete traditional sand painting created by local Tacoma artists. With complimentary admission all day, visitors have ample opportunity to see TAM’s exhibitions and participate in a day of cultural exchange.

“We draw participation from families and groups who create incredible altars to honor loved ones. Día de los Muertos is personal, celebratory, and full of memories,” shared Britt Board, Community Engagement Manager. “The success of this event is the result of collaboration with our longtime partners from Proyecto MoLE, Centro Latino, and the Consulado de México en Seattle.”

Lilian Córdoba Vázquez, Director for Community Outreach of the Consulado de México en Seattle, echoed the enthusiasm. “We are very happy to join TAM again to celebrate Día de Muertos. This festival is deeply rooted in the tradition of the south and center of México. It intertwines ceremonial symbolism, Catholic, and pre-Hispanic traditions with the ethnic and cultural diversity of the country. Death comes to visit, share, dance, and eat before beginning again her path of eternal rest. We receive her with altars or ofrendas that include flowers, candles, and refreshments for the long trip ahead. This year at TAM we are particularly proud to incorporate the lighted alebrijes built by artists Ruben Castillo and Oscar Becerra, an explosion of colors emphasizing the festive character of Day of the Dead.”

Internationally known artist Ruben Castillo will lead a youth workshop, making mini-altars and small tombs. The workshop is open to the first 75 youth to sign up on the day of the event. He will also move throughout the lobby and atrium wearing his hand-crafted alebrijes. Castillo is passionate about folk art. Born in México City, he is a member of a collective of artists who exhibit and sell their work in the neighborhoods of Sullivan and San Angel. Since 2006 he has collaborated with the Museum of Popular Art in México City and with them, has created and shown lighted alebrijes internationally. This year, the lighted alebrijes will be seen for the first time in the United States as part of Día de los Muertos celebrations in Seattle and Tacoma.

A team of four local Tacoma artists will create the tapete: Carlos Cervantes, Jorge Garcia, Jorge Mota and Saiyare Refaei. They are excited to show what local artists can bring to this cultural tradition. Their tapete installation will depict La Santa Muerte, also known as Santisima Muerte, the beloved goddess of death. Her origins date back to pre-colonial México when she was known as Mictecacihuatl, “Lady of the Land of the Dead.” She is believed to be the protector of souls residing in the underworld.

The community altars will be on view beginning Sunday, October 23, through the festival on Sunday, November 6.

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– Tacoma Art Museum