Dia de los Muertos at MKAC: “You are the result of the love of thousands”
The days darken down into the celebration of two major autumn festivals: Halloween and The Day of the Dead. Both emerged from ancient traditions that say this is a time of year when the veil between the living and the dead thins, and souls of the dead can draw near to their loved ones in the living world. For a short while, time is a swinging door that goes both ways, and spirits can cross over and back.
One very strong Day of the Dead tradition is the creation of elaborate bower-bird type altars to honor a passed loved one, and the best place to see a really colorful collection of these altars is at the Maude Kerns Art Center, celebrating its 28th annual Dia de los Muertos exhibit. This year, they’ve gone all out with eight big community altars and a really big, chock-full gift shop.
Toni Goldenberg created a Family Altar of a table with a couple of shelves on it. Above is an enclosing arch of traditional cut paper prayer flags. On display are at least two dozen vintage family photographs. There's a row of singing Catrina dolls and another row of foods dear to her family including a coffee, oranges, and chocolate. Let me remind you that the food is for the dead, so no snitching chocolates off the altar!
In the upper center is a dollhouse-sized table with skeletons representing Toni’s parents seated at a feast . There are candles, marigolds, and a handmade angel doll spreading her wings of blessing over all. You can feel the vast affection flowing from this family altar.
Toni offers a quote by poet Linda Hogan that is a touchpoint for all these heartfelt and intricately constructed altars:
“Walking, I am listening to a deeper way.
Suddenly, all my ancestors are behind me.
Be still, they say.
Watch and listen.
You are the result of the love of thousands.”