To honor those who have passed, MSC CAMAC invites all students to see its ofrenda, providing a way for people to come together while commemorating the Day of the Dead.
Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, takes place on Nov. 1-2. In addition to the Hispanic Presidents’ Council hosting a virtual ofrenda and face painting tutorial on Oct. 30, MSC CAMAC — Committee for the Awareness of Mexican-American Culture — is now displaying an ofrenda in person. The display includes photographs of students’ past loved ones and will be available in the Reynolds Gallery from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3.
Analisa Garcia, environmental geosciences senior and vice-chair of MSC CAMAC, said the organization strives to inform students about the cultural richness of Latinx communities.
“The purpose is to put on programs that will bring awareness and understanding of Latinx cultures and values to Texas A&M University and the Bryan-College Station community,” Garcia said. “We also work to provide our members with the opportunity to educate themselves and others about current events that are impacting Latinx cultures.”
Regarding the exhibit, Mariana De Hoyos, chemical engineering sophomore and cultural director for MSC CAMAC, said it will display an ofrenda to celebrate those who have passed, keeping their memory alive with friends and family who are still here.
“An ofrenda is basically an altar to commemorate the loved ones who passed away,” De Hoyos said. “There’s symbolic elements placed all around the ofrenda like [candy] skulls, marigolds, salt [and] pictures. It’s a beautiful exhibit to just look at and appreciate, seeing all the faces of people who were once here and honoring them.”
Keiry Argueta, agribusiness senior and chair of MSC CAMAC, said the organization made the ofrenda interactive for students while also displaying their culture.
“We opened up picture submissions for our whole community here at Texas A&M, [so] it’s pictures that people on campus have submitted of their loved ones,” Argueta said. “It is going to bring our community together because it’s pictures of different Aggie families. The cultural significance of the altar itself is allowing our culture to celebrate the dead too in an open space where everybody can see how we celebrate them, what we [offer], and how the altars look.”
When attending the exhibit, Garcia said students will observe multiple photographs that are framed and displayed on the traditional ofrenda with flowers and candles.
“It’s welcoming back the spirits of your past loved ones, [similar to] a reunion,” Garcia said. “For all those who participated, they’re able to go see the ofrenda in the gallery and see their family members. It’s a reflection of how this exhibit wants to let people know this is not only to teach people about Día de los Muertos, but it’s also something that you’re actively able to participate in.”
De Hoyos said she hopes students will understand the Day of the Dead is not a holiday of mourning, but one of celebration.
“Death is a scary concept, but in our Mexican heritage, we emphasize that death is a part of the circle of life,” De Hoyos said. “It’s just an acknowledgement that death is going to come. It happened to our past loved ones, so we created this ofrenda to remember them [and] celebrate their life on Earth.”
Encouraging students to visit the exhibit, Garcia said it may provide them with a new learning experience while allowing some to honor past loved ones.
“In American culture, we definitely hear about the Day of the Dead. We’ll learn about it at school, but maybe we aren’t able to fully comprehend it [outside of movies like] Coco,” Garcia said. “It’s different when you’re only seeing something from a screen as opposed to coming up to one and actually seeing one in-person and understanding just how personable it can be.”