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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Maguire Museum celebrates Day of the Dead

Local residents, Ishaq Deis and Caroline Maw-Deis, converse with two representatives from TelevisaUnivision, a Mexican-American media company, Nov. 2. PHOTO: SAHR KARIMU ’26/THE HAWK

The Frances M. Maguire Art Museum hosted Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a traditional Mexican celebration, Nov. 2.

Día de los Muertos, which takes place Nov. 1 to Nov. 2 in Mexico, invites the living to honor and connect with those who have died.

In the museum’s main hall, different participatory festivities were set up for attendees, including paper flower crafts as well as a station for pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and Mexican hot chocolate — dishes typically consumed in association with the holiday.

The event was organized by Veronica Farr, education outreach coordinator for the Maguire Museum.

“[The holiday] really shows so much about the Latino cultures that celebrate it, and how much they respect their ancestors and love them,” said Farr. “Even though they passed away, they still want them as part of their lives. I think that is a little different than American culture of flowers on the grave and shouldn’t have that same kind of celebration around, so it was eye-opening for me learning about it, and I would expect it would be for the students as well.”

The event’s main focus was the art. The lower floor contained several pieces of work, primarily sculptures, which were Mexican works centered around the holiday’s skeletal and floral imagery.

The main floor featured classically painted works by Hispanic artists. Alongside the art was an altar like those often kept in Mexican homes for the holiday, complete with decorations with ofrendas, or offerings, of food and art dedicated to those that the household wish to remember.

Adorned with names and images of friends, relatives and community leaders, the ofrendas were crafted through a collaboration between different artists. Marta Sanchez-Dallam, adjunct professor of art and art history, and St. Joe’s students contributed their own crafts and the likenesses of their loved ones.

“Overall, I think it’s increased my understanding of the holiday as well as Mexican religiosity and syncretism in general,” said Jake Singleton ’25, who attended the celebration. “It has a cultural element to it that I think can’t really be recreated anywhere else, whether that be by having the sweets that they eat during Día de los Muertos or the flowers, for example, even if they’re made of papier mâché.”

For Estefany Sanchez ’27, who also attended the event, the ofrendas display had a particular personal impact for someone like her who observes Día de los Muertos.

“I’m not able to be home today,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s really cool that I can come here and think about my relatives.”

Farr said the art’s message impacted her personally, and she was glad to be able to deliver this experience to the St. Joe’s community.

“I think for me, the art has allowed me to grieve some members of my family and appreciate how they were part of my life,” Farr said. “In daily life here, you get caught up in the mundane and [are] always busy. You’re doing and doing and doing, and just to stop, pause and think about those who are so important to you and how they still live within you, it’s a really good feeling.”

The Frances M. Maguire Museum’s showcase of Latin American Abstract Art, “IMPULSE, REASON, SENSE, CONFLICT” is on display through Dec. 15.

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Gavin Kuebler
Gavin Kuebler, Assistant Features Editor
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