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‘Day of Dead’ Altar to Highlight Photography Exhibit at Aurora University Museum Nov. 1

Chocolate Skulls–A photo of chocolate skulls by Mexican artist Guillermo Aladna is part of “A Celebration of Souls: Day of the Dead in Southern Mexico,” a traveling photography exhibit developed by the Field Museum with Mars, Inc., on display to Jan. 8, 2012


AURORA, Ill. —A “Day of the Dead” altar, decorated with mementos honoring deceased persons, will be displayed at the Aurora University Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures in Dunham Hall, 1400 Marseillaise Place, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The altar highlights a reception for “A Celebration of Souls: Day of the Dead in Southern Mexico,” a traveling exhibit developed by the Field Museum with Mars, Inc., which is on display at the university through Jan. 8. Students in AU’s Latin American Student Organization will create the altar display.

Opened Sept. 29, “Celebration of Souls” includes 26 dramatic color photographs capturing a typical Day of the Dead celebration in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. Artifacts from the museum’s collection are also displayed.

Artists who contributed images include Ricardo Jose Garibay Ruiz, Scott Vlaun, Guillermo Aldana, and Howard-Yana Shapiro.

Meg Bero, Director of the Schingoethe Center, said she has chosen  a variety of pottery, trees of life and candle holders from the center’s collection for the display.

Photos in Celebration of Souls depict candlelit home altars, public processions, and rich offerings of food — including a row of solid chocolate skulls. Villagers are shown immersed in all aspects of the celebration. They include preparing centuries-old recipes for the departed to enjoy, scattering trails of marigolds to guide the dead home, and offering chocolate and pan de muerto (bread of the dead) at community gatherings.

On each Nov. 1 and 2, on the Christian holidays of All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day, families in villages across Mexico gather to welcome home the visiting spirits of departed relatives on the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Mexicans prepare for the celebration, which often includes decorating burial plots, lively family reunions and the preparation of special foods, for weeks in advance. Altars in honor of the deceased are decorated with skeleton models, elaborate wreaths and crosses, votive lights, and fresh seasonal flowers.

Traditionally, Nov. 1 is set aside for remembrance of deceased infants, or angelitos. Those who died as adults are honored on Nov. 2.

The public is invited to Celebration of Souls.  Schingoethe Center hours are Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  The suggested admission donation is $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, and $1 for children under 12.

For more information, call (630) 844-7843 or click here.