Visual and Public Art (VPA) hosted their 23rd annual Day of the Dead celebration on Nov. 1 in honor of Dia de los Muertos, located at VPA Building 72. The students from the course VPA 209: Day of The Dead Workshop, taught by Dr. Mendoza, spent all semester planning the event.
The course is founded on tenants of community engagement and social interaction, as it was indeed an event that brought the community together. The Visual and Public Art department developed and implemented the event into their curriculum with a critical perspective approach.
To honor loved ones who passed, Building 72 had altars set up with ofrendas, or offerings, that loved ones liked when alive. Various on-campus clubs from California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) such as the spanish club, who makes an altar annually; sororities and fraternities such as Sigma Omega Nu and Gamma Zeta Alpha; and students from the VPA course had altars decorated. Organization MEChA de CSUMB created an altar in memory of children who died under I.C.E custody. Their altar had black and white photos of the children accompanied by a giant painted monarch butterfly and toys on the table.
The College Assistance Migrant Program helps migrant students at through socioeconomic means also made an altar. Pan dulce and hot chocolate were provided for guests. Face painting was offered as well for those wanting a traditional skull look. Paper decorations were strung from the tops of the building were reminiscent of Disney film “Coco.” Nearing the end of the event, Aztec dancers performed to the beat of drums and welcomed the ancestors to enjoy the offerings as part of their ceremony.
Third-year student Sebastian Mireles attended the event. “It was stunning,” Mireles said. “Your heart starts to follow the drums of the Aztec dancers and you become transfixed on the majesty of it all. It’s like history becomes alive.”
Likewise, transfer student Adrianna Gonzales added, “The event was wholesome. It brought back good memories to think back to the ones closest to you may have passed away.”
“It was super cool. I really enjoyed it all,” Herman Acosta said. “It reminded me of my culture and heritage. I like seeing the altars.”
All things considered, the annual Día de los Muertos is a delightful treat for the students at CSUMB who want to engage in their culture, explore potentially forgotten cultural roots or appreciate what the world has to offer.