Day of the Dead comes to life

Tony Morris

Dia De Los Muertos has been a traditional art exhibit to honor the dead that used to take place at the Atkinson gallery, but the Day of the Dead committee (DoD) would give it life again this year at the Luria Library.

For over 15 years the Day of the Dead exhibit has been a tradition at SBCC thanks to a group of faculty members and other contributors that make this possible. This year’s exhibit will take place at the Luria Library due to a time conflict with the Atkinson gallery making it harder for the DoD committee members to organize the traditional altars, but not impossible.

“We were told that we were no longer able to display our exhibits at the Atkinson Gallery,” said Sonia Zuñiga-Lomeli, professor of the School Of Modern Languages and member of the DoD committee. “We got to the point of asking ourselves, ‘should we go on with the tradition or not?'”

According to Zuñiga-Lomeli, they decided not to let this tradition die.

“We do what we can with what we have.” said Zuñiga-Lomeli. Library Director Kenley Neufeld offered them the foyer in the library to host the exhibit. It will be smaller than the one at the Atkinson gallery, but it will have the same sense of celebration and a chance for more students to view it.

“The exhibit at the library will help us to attract students from the West Campus who had previously never seen our exhibit,” said Dina Castillo, professor of Modern Languages and member of the DoD committee. “All departments on West Campus would have the opportunity to encourage their students to go see the exhibit, especially the Ethnic Studies Department that could learn more from this Mexican tradition.”

“Even though the location has been changed this tradition has a powerful meaning among our families,” said Pati Oregel, an English major at City College.

Dia de Los Muertos is a Mexican tradition to honor their deceased family members. These celebrations can be traced back to the indigenous people as far as 3,000 years. In the post-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

Today in rural Mexico people visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried. They decorate gravesites with marigold flowers and candles as well as bring offerings to their deceased family members. Sometimes they even sit on picnic blankets next to the gravesites and eat the favorite food of their loved ones.

As of last year, the City College Day of the Dead exhibit has been one of the biggest in the Central Valley, and it brought 1,400 visitors to appreciate the displays on the altars.

This year the display would consist of seven altars that will have different college group’s contributions including EOPS’s club and local painter Philly Lomeli who every year displays a painting called “Universal Obituaries” on the main altar. This painting consists of world-wide figures who died over the year.

The DoD committee is also planning on having an altar to remember the teenagers who were killed in fights in Santa Barbara this year. There were 400 invitations sent out to certain organizations in Santa Barbara. More than 100 kids from several local elementary schools are expected to attend this exhibition as well as schools from Santa Maria.

A theme for this year’s exhibit has not been yet determined, but according to Zuñiga-Lomeli a possible one could be, “!Que viva la muerte!” which in English means “May death live!”

The exhibit is scheduled for Oct. 29 thru Nov. 2, 2007 in the Luria Library at City College. A reception will take place Friday Nov. 2 from 6-9 p.m. as a closing to the event. There would also be traditional mexican food as part of this celebration.