MILWAUKEE -- A new exhibit on Milwaukee's south side centers around the Mexican celebration of Día de los Muertos. Those behind the exhibit want those taking part in the traditions to have a deeper understanding of the holiday now growing in popularity.
Losing the one we love is never easy. You cannot prepare for it. But you can hold onto their memorial.
"Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life," said Jacobo Lovo, Managing Artistic Director.
Día de Muertos, now more commonly known as Día de los Muertos (and in English, Day of the Dead), is a Mexican holiday centered around love and respect for those no longer with us.
On Wednesday, Oct. 23, Lovo unveiled an annual exhibit -- with is centered around Ofrendas (in English, Offerings).
"You have candles, the pan de muerto, the marigolds -- and the quintessential part are the photographs," Lovo said.
The holiday began with ancient Aztec culture in Mexico. The way it is celebrated today dates back 500 years. However, many elements are thousands of years old.
"It's gone way beyond its origin places," said Laura Matthew, Associate Professor of History at Marquette University.
Matthew said the holiday resonates with people around the world. Traditionally, it is believed on Nov. 1st and 2nd souls are given permission to visit their families on Earth.
"We know a lot about the Aztec celebration because there was a lot of writings about it," Matthew said.
The exhibit is filled with work of local students -- Latinos and non-Latino artists.
So who can celebrate Día de los Muertos?
"I would like to say anybody can celebrate Día de Muertos. As long as they are approaching it from a real place where they want to connect with the culture and pay tribute to a loved one," Lovo said.
The holiday has grown in popularity -- opening up a James Bond film, service as the plot around the box office hit, "Coco," and becoming the inspiration for Mattel's Day of the Dead Barbie. That is why educational elements are built into the exhibit.
"We want people from all over not just the Latino community but from all over Wisconsin to come into this space," Lovo said.
So the traditions of the past live on for generations to come.
Día de los Muertos Ofrendas Exhibit
1028 S. 9th Street, Milwaukee
On view: Oct. 23 – Nov. 22
Opening Reception: Nov. 1, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. (free and open to the public)
Jarabe Mexicano Performance
Latino Arts Auditorium: Nov. 1, 7 p.m. (ticket required)
Upcoming lunch and learn event, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p .m., Nov. 8
Día de los Muertos-Cultural Origins
Día de los Muertos has become part of mainstream pop culture, but what are its true cultural origins? What does it mean to those celebrating it today? This session will focus on Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead, exploring its pre-colonial origins, its evolution after the conquest, and how it has been adapted in the present day in Hispanic culture and beyond.
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