Dia de los Muertos at Whittier College

Whittier College News Release

For Immediate Release - October 15, 1997
Contact: Judy Browning or Kristin Tranquada (562) 907-4277
Reference: 97-98/29

Dia de los Muertos

Celebrated at Whittier College

Whittier College's second annual campus-wide celebration of the traditional Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead" will take place on Saturday, November 1, in the upper quad near Wardman Art Center, beginning at 5 p.m. This year, musical and theatrical performances as well as a demonstration of an Aztec ball game will precede the gorgeous and wild costumed procession that is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Based on customs of the "Mexicas," inhabitants of what is now Mexico City, offerings of food and other supplies are made to help the departed make the after-death journey through the nine underground passages easier. Successful passage leads to their final resting place.

Sponsored by the art department in conjunction with the department of modern languages and several student organizations, the procession will feature masked and unmasked adults and children, who will parade from the Earlham Street parking lot toward the Wardman Art Center, where a student-constructed altar awaits the gifts of participants. Participants and observers are invited to place photos of deceased loved ones and samples of their favorite foods at the altar.

Inside Wardman, visitors will find an exhibition of traditional Day of the Dead objects as well as educational materials about the event. In keeping with last year's tributes to Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and the children killed in Dunblaine, Scotland, there will be three altarsŅa traditional altar just outside the entrance to the gym, and two postmodern re-interpretations of the altarŅone to slain fashion designer Gianni Versace and one to Seth Farley, a Whittier student who was killed in an automobile crash last summer.

The event also is being supported in several classes. Calaveras escritas, satirical scrolls, have been written in some of the modern language classes for display during the celebration, while students in printmaking classes have designed relief print posters especially for this occasion. Many of the art classes have also contributed to the preparations, from mask design and altar construction to mapping the luminarias that will guide the procession.

The approximate schedule of all events includes the Aztec ball game, 5 p.m.; Teatro Juvenil of Pico Rivera performing regional folkloric dances from all over Mexico, 6-6:45; Whittier College students in a theatrical performance of Sensemaya, 7-7:30 p.m., and, after the procession, the band Viva Mapache will perform from 8-10 p.m. The celebration is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Kim Russo, assistant professor of art, at (562) 907-4200, ext. 4828.

Located 18 miles east of Los Angeles, Whittier College is an independent, four-year college offering traditional liberal arts majors and strong pre-professional programs taught in the context of the liberal arts. Whittier Law School, which is accredited by the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools, is located on a separate campus in Costa Mesa.

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