Casa Azul, located in downtown Greensboro, will be holding their fifth annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) exhibit and reception on Nov. 1 and 2 at the Greensboro Children’s Museum. Since it was founded in 2011, Casa Azul has been a prominent Hispanic cultural outreach for many artists in Greensboro and surrounding areas.
A Latino arts organization, Casa Azul works under ArtsGreensboro. It essentially provides resources for the creative expression of Latino culture in the local community through projects and partnerships.
Casa Azul has a database of artists that others can use as a means to find or discover artists in Greensboro. People can call and contact Casa Azul to find out whom they have worked with in the past and would recommend for specific projects.
The artists they are in contact with may or may not have exhibited their work at a Casa Azul event, but if Casa Azul is aware of a certain talent they will extend that information to their clients. Casa Azul is in contact with many people of Latino descent and heritage that are willing to partner with events in the community when their cultural knowledge and expertise is needed.
Though this is the only annual event Casa Azul holds, there are many things through the years they have presented that feature Latino cultures and traditions.
This upcoming event is the coming together of the board and staff at Casas Azul along with community volunteers. This year they made it a priority to focus on volunteer work. They recruited volunteers from the community and held workshops where those interested could attend.
Many came from UNCG, NC A&T and individuals not affiliated with any organizations showed up. At the workshops, they worked on crafts, making sugar skulls and flower decorating. Having the community be involved this year has made it an especially exceptional time for Casa Azul.
Casa Azul started planning this event months ago, brainstorming decorations, exhibits and who they were going to invite as special guests. Each year they invite past artists back and usually someone come from another country. This year their guest will be from Guatemala.
The Dia de los Muertos event has grown throughout the past five years and will be held at a new location this year. The Children’s Museum will host the event, though it is for any demographic and all ages.
Day of the Dead, or Dia de Los Muertos, is a Hispanic holiday that originated over 3,000 years ago from the indigenous people of Mexico and South America. It is a day of celebration, observing family and friends who have passed away. In the Mexican culture, this is a colorful and much anticipated event where spirits are welcomed back into the world for two days.
Their graves are decorated, favorite foods are prepared and treats are made for the community. Toys and candies are left for deceased children and many come together to reminisce about their loved ones at the cemetery on the second day. It is believed happy spirits will bring protection, good luck and wisdom to their families. It is a day of celebrating, not mourning, those who have died and can be compared to Memorial Day in America.
For Casa Azul’s Dia de los Muertos event, they will have a two day affair where both days exemplify different parts of the Mexican holiday.
On the first day, they will have a reception exhibiting the altars for the first time. The making of the altar is an important tradition in Mexico where family members create two to three-tiered altars representing their loved ones. They lay out offerings that the spirits can enjoy after their journey from the Other side.
Both Latino artists and community members will make the altars that will be showcased at this event. Some groups of members will give their own interpretation of altars. These altars will not necessarily commemorate a certain passed loved one. Some will have certain themes, such as breast cancer awareness and domestic violence. All that has been asked of the artist is to use the traditional elements such as flowers and food.
There will be 8-10 altars on display by an edible garden. The path to the altars will be lit with candles. Guests will be offered a traditional bread and a drink similar to hot chocolate.
They will have several traditional performances throughout the night, featuring local dance groups and puppeteers. Both have come to this event for several years. There will be face painting and a food truck available outside. It will be a lively celebration similar to Dia de los Muertos.
On the second night, the altars will still be featured, but the celebratory aspects will not be included. It’s a time where the volunteers and board members will be around to walk people around through the exhibit and educate them on what Day of the Dead is.
This event is meant to bring people together from all cultural backgrounds. It is not about exalting the Latino culture, but to have others give their own interpretations of it as well.
Casa Azul is using this opportunity to welcome and show the community that this is a different culture’s way of recognizing death as a lively celebration. It’s also a way of giving people recognition for their artwork while inviting the community to educate themselves about the culture that goes along with it.
The event is free and open to the public.