The University of Notre Dame has been hosting an art exhibit showcasing altars created by artists to remember those who are no longer living among us for fifteen years. This is the 4th year that the annual celebration will take place at the NDCAC and has invited members of the South Bend community to participate in the 2016 celebration by creating their own altars. These altars will be on view in the Crossroads Gallery for Contemporary Art for the month of October 2016 and for the celebration onNovember 2, 2016.
Ofrendas (offerings) or Altares (altars) are made in memory of the deceased and are a good example of the cultural hybridity of this holiday. These altares/ofrendas are either built at the gravesite or in the home, and include offerings of food, water, and personal possessions of the deceased. Oftentimes a photograph of the deceased is placed within the ofrenda which is usually built in a three-tier pyramid type structure. The bottom level representing Mitlan the underworld, the middle section representing earth and the top representing the heavens. A traditional ofrenda includes the four elements of wind, fire, water and earth, represented through papel picado (wind), candles (fire), beverages (water) and flowers (earth). Other elements included in a traditional altar are personal belongings or any items that honor your loved one.
Originally published at romancelanguages.nd.edu.