Art, Music, and Poetry Combine for the Annual Día de los Muertos Celebrations at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art


The popular event has been extended to four evenings in 2013


EUGENE, Ore. -- (October 10, 2013) – The annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration returns to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus for four days of activities, on Tuesday, October 29, Wednesday, October 30, Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. each evening. The free celebrations are open to the community and feature dancing, poetry, music, and two special displays commemorating the 100th anniversary of José Guadalupe Posada’s death.


Dancing, poetry, and live music by the Guanaxtecos from Sierra de Guanajuato will be featured each evening as part of the celebration. In the JSMA art studio, Mexican ceramic artist Martín Guevara Luna will lead traditional art activities for all ages.


“Posada: 100 Ańos” and  “Homenaje a Posada,” two displays of artwork commemorating the 100th anniversary of José Guadalupe Posada’s death will be on view from October 29 to December 15, 2013 in the Ford Lecture Hall. Posada was a political cartoonist and artist from Mexico who is often recognized for his calaveras, images of skulls and skeletons giving a satirical look at politics and society. Since his death on January 20, 1913, his art has become associated with Día de los Muertos, mostly through his most famous character, La Catrina, a skeleton depicting a female dressed only in a hat. The installation includes reproductions of more than 30 Posada works and 20 original prints by Mexican artists who have been inspired by Posada.


Pablo Neruda and José Guadalupe Posada are celebrated in the traditional Día de los Muertos ofrenda, also known as a Day of the Dead altar, which will be constructed by local students and placed on display. The altar is a customary part of the holiday that is meant to honor the deceased. In addition to the event times, the public is encouraged to visit the ofrenda during museum hours between October 29 and November 2.

Día de los Muertos, as we know it today, began thousands of years ago in the valley of southern Mexico where the Mayas, Zapotecas, Mixtecas, and Aztecas honored their dead with elaborate ceremonies, dances, and rituals. In the 16th century, when Cortez conquered Mexico and Catholicism was introduced, the religious All Saints Day and All Souls Day coincided with the indigenous Mexican celebrations, giving us the tradition of altars with food, art, candles, flowers, and photographs of the deceased alongside those of saints.


The particulars of the celebration vary widely by region in Mexico, but traditionally, on November 1, Día de los Muertos Chiquitos, the departed children are remembered. The evening is sometimes called la Noche de Duelo, The Night of Mourning, marked by a candlelight procession to the cemetery. On November 2, Día de los Muertos, the spirits of the dead are remembered. Entire families visit the graves of their ancestors, bringing favorite foods and alcoholic beverages as offerings to the deceased as well as a picnic lunch for themselves. They spend the day cleaning and decorating the grave sites and visiting with each other and other families. There are sugar skulls and toys for the children, emphasizing early on that death is a positive part of the life cycle. It is a happy occasion for remembering pleasant times with departed family members.


The event is co-sponsored by Oak Hill School in conjunction with MEChA de UO, Adelante Sí, el Instituto de Cultura de Guanajuato, el Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, and el Instituto Estatal de Atención al Migrante Guanajuatense y sus familias.


About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest visual arts center for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art based in a major university setting. The mission of the museum is to enhance the University of Oregon’s academic mission and to further the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for the general public.  The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to art from China, Japan, Korea, America and elsewhere and Russian icons as well as changing special exhibition galleries.  The JSMA is one of six museums in Oregon accredited by the American Association of Museums.


The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027.


About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of 62 of the leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. Membership in the AAU is by invitation only. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.


Contact: Debbie Williamson Smith, 541-346-0942,


Link: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,