Remembrance and Celebration: Community Altar Project

Day of the Dead altar box display from 2014 fiesta at Edgewood College.
Day of the Dead altar box display from 2014 fiesta at Edgewood College.

Written by Serena Larkin, SoHE Communications, and Claire Campbell, LACIS Communications Intern

Every October, the lobby in front of the Student Academic Affairs office at the School of Human Ecology ebbs and flows with stacks of simple wooden boxes. Sometimes more numerous, sometimes less, the boxes are available to all students and community members to take home and decorate in memory of a loved one who has died. They then bring back their finished “altar boxes” to be part of the School of Human Ecology’s Community Altar Project October 25–November 15. On November 1, the school  hosted the Day of the Dead celebration, open to all community members and featuring food, music, dancing, and stories.

“Making an altar for a loved one is really hard. But it is also a very powerful experience. And when displayed together, it creates a community of altars, each with their own memory and meaning,” says organizer and Jane Rafferty Thiele Professor in Human Ecology Carolyn Kallenborn. Her art and scholarship have found inspiration in the extensive exchange work she has engaged in in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“A friend of mine in Mexico said, ‘For some reason the All Powerful one allows our dead loved ones to come back for a day. So we thrown them a party.’ Day of the Dead in SoHE was inspired by the festival of remembering, honoring and celebrating.”

Kallenborn also made a video about her art, which you can find right here.



Channel 3 TV spot and article

Article in the Cardinal