Celebrating life after death

India Allen, India Allen, and India Allen

City College’s “Dia de los muertos” exhibition at the Atkinson Gallery will be opening Monday Oct. 31 and will continue to be shown through Nov. 4.

“Dia de los Muertos” is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the life of the dead and their return into the realm of the living.

“Students can expect eight to nine altars this year,” said Sonia Lomeli, Foreign Language Department Professor.

Lomeli said students should expect to see an array of skeleton figures engaging in everyday life. “Because we walk with death, life cannot exist without death and death without life,” she added.

The building of the altars will occur the Saturday before the exhibit opens to the public.

“It is a success every year,” Lomeli said. “Last year we got between 1600 and 2000 visitors, including elementary, middle and high school students.”

Lomeli said even residents from retirement homes came to last year’s exhibition.

During the week of the exhibition there will be activities, such as two films set to show and a special lunch that will include Tamales, Mole, and Pan de muerto.

The films on the roster are “Food for the Ancestors” and “Day of the Dead.” They will be shown in the Campus Center.

There is also a reception scheduled after the closing of the exhibition on Nov. 4 and food and refreshments will be provided, Lomeli said.

The EOPS, School of Modern Languages, Mexican Class Literature and other departments have all collaborated to bring the show together.

“We never know what we’re going to come up with, it starts with a blank slate and we create from there,” Lomeli said. “We just get in there and the spirits move through us.”

“It is a Joyous time to remember your loved ones,” Lomeli added. “It is a pleasant reminder of the inevitable.”

Lomeli also said many teachers incorporate the exhibition and the significance of Dia de los Muertos into their lectures and curriculum for their classes.

“There are going to be at least four young male artists from City College this year. Teachers and students work together to bring the dead back to life in this exhibition, Lomeli said. “It is a collaborative work.”

In a sense, the way the altars are going to be created on the spot, reinforce the belief of bringing the dead back to visit in the realm of the living.

“This is a very healthy way of dealing with the tragedy and sorrow of death,” Lomeli said. “It is a cultural expression about death; it is not to be feared.”