Image: Day of the Dead altar box display from 2014 fiesta at Edgewood College.
Every October, the lobby in front of the Student Academic Affairs office at the School of Human Ecology ebbs and flows with stacks of simple wooden boxes. Sometimes more numerous, sometimes less, the boxes are available to all students and community members to take home and decorate in memory of a loved one who has died. They then bring back their finished “altar boxes” to be part of the School of Human Ecology’s Community Altar Project October 25–November 15. On November 1, the school will again host Day of the Dead celebration, open to all community members and featuring food, music, dancing, and stories.
“Making an altar for a loved one is really hard. But it is also a very powerful experience. And when displayed together, it creates a community of altars, each with their own memory and meaning,” says organizer and Jane Rafferty Thiele Professor in Human Ecology Carolyn Kallenborn. Her art and scholarship have found inspiration in the extensive exchange work she has engaged in in Oaxaca, Mexico.
“A friend of mine in Mexico said, ‘For some reason the All Powerful one allows our dead loved ones to come back for a day. So we thrown them a party.’ Day of the Dead in SoHE was inspired by the festival of remembering, honoring and celebrating.”
November 1, Fiesta schedule:
4:30 – 5:30pm Story sharing by altar makers
5:30 – 7:30pm:
– Cookie decorating and Skeleton coloring (Belén Chávez)
– MetamorFaces Fantasy Makeup (Catrina Face Painting) (Nuria Moffat)
– Day of the Dead Print Sale (Fresh Hot Press)
– Tamales, and other snacks (Taqueria El Jalapeño)
6:00pm Stilt walkers (Wild Rumpus Circus/Mazo Movement Arts Center)
6:30pm Welcome Remarks
7:00 – 8:00pm Live music by Acoplados / Folk Afro Latin Music
7:40pm DanzTrad Aztec Dance
8:00[m Jalisco Dancers
PARKING: Always limited, so we encourage using transit. Several buses drop very near to our building! Otherwise, lots 26 and 34 are free after 4:30. More parking and bus information available at https://sohe.wisc.edu/sohe101/visit-us/.