Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art hosts Día de los Muertos celebrations

Celebrations feature music by Los Musiqueros, keynote speaker Alejandra Espinosa Andreu, and art activities lead by Benita Rodriguez Alvarez


EUGENE, Ore. -- (October 17, 2012) – The annual Día de los Muertos celebration returns to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art for two days of activities, on Tuesday, October 30, and Thursday, November 1, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The free celebrations are open to the community and feature poetry, music, and a keynote address.


Alejandra Espinosa Andreu, artist and keynote speaker, will focus on the importance of Mexican traditions in the Latino community of the United States and “muerte en cartelera,” ephemeral artworks with death as a central theme. In the JSMA art studio, Benita Rodriguez Alvarez, will lead activities for children focused on traditional Mexican folk art practices, including making sugar skulls. Musical guests “Los Musiqueros” return to Eugene from el Bajío, Mexico, to perform music and dance as part of the celebrations.


The program features a traditional Día de los Muertos ofrenda, also known as a Day of the Dead altar, which will be constructed and placed on display. The altar is a customary part of the holiday that is meant to honor family members who have passed on. In addition to the event times, the public is encouraged to visit the ofrenda on Wednesday, October 31, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday, November 1 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The celebrations and ofrenda are co-sponsored by Oak Hill School in conjunction with the University of Oregon MEChA, Casa de Cultura de Guanajuato, Instituto de Cultura de Guanajuate, Dirección de Atención a Comunidades Guanajuatenses en el Extranjero, and

Adelante Sí. The celebrations are made possible, in part, by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust awarded to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

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 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.



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,