Celebrating Life on The Day of The Dead

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Photos by Shuva Rahim
   
Figge Art Museum Curator of Education, Ann Marie Hayes was thrilled when Casa Guanajuatdayofthe_deado called a few years ago to see if they wanted to display altars for Dia de los Muertos in the lobby. Now in its third year, the Figge Art Museum in Davenport held a celebration for the Day of the Dead with “Viva la Vida” long live life being the slogan.Hayes said that the people at the museum loved the displays and learning about them.

“It’s very educational, great way for people to experience the Figge and learn about Mexican-American culture,” Ms. Hayes said.

 

Altars were built to honor the dead of music stars Selena, Tito Puente, Antonio Aguilar, and Celia Cruz. The event’s organizer Casa Guanajuato had an altar of Frida Kahlo designed by artist Jesus Pastor. Altars featured religious symbols of Our Lady of Guadalupe and candles, they also included pictures and food. 

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Augustana College Professor Esteban Loustaunau helped build an altar of his deceased family members and included pictures of them and also conducted a presentation about the life and works of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.   Frida was also represented in the form of a life-size “Katrina”, a paper maché skeleton fully dressed like the artist while holding a large slice of watermelon.

 

Maria Aguilera, 70 of Davenport, attended for the second year in a row. When she went to Mexico in 1982 for Dia de los Muertos, she said she went to enjoy herself. However, everyone was at the cemetery. She was happy to see that the Latino community still holds on to its culture and religion. “I like to see my people all together,” Ms. Aguilera said.

 

Opening ceremonies started with the Native American Community of the Quad Cities giving a native invocation and a double reed flute playing music.

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Lorenzo Patterson and his wife Nancy Patterson, both Native Americans, said that the Navajo never speak of the dead and never mention the person’s name again because they believe that everyone will be together again. They were very thankful that the community invited them to participate.

 

“I talked to an older Hispanic person and they said the culture came from the older Indian culture. It makes sense, the customs between the native groups are pretty much the same,” she said.

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Davenport’s Truman Elementary School students Vincent Janacua, Victoria Janacua, and Seth Marshall thought it was a good event and were not afraid of the skulls. Vincent even called them “pretty”. Seth could not put the altars to words to describe but said that he thought they were “really, really cool.”

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