Art & Entertainment, Detroit City Guide, Feature Story

Family Visit to Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos 2019

Hi, friends! How are you? Hope you had a good weekend. In today’s post, I am sharing our family photos from our visit to Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos 2019 at the Detroit Institute of Arts. We attended the DIA Day of the Dead (another term used for Día de Los Muertos) art exhibit at the beginning of October– right after watching the Taiwanese musical Formosa Roadside Wedding Banquet.

If you’re interested in viewing the Ofrendas art exhibit, then you still have some time!

The exhibit ends on November 10, 2019. A few of my Instagram (IG) friends told me the art exhibit is also a yearly exhibit that is held in October. I learned something new because I didn’t know this! This was our first visit to the Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos and it won’t be our last!

Keep reading to learn more about what Día de Muertos means, EIGHT Day of the Dead activity ideas, and view photos of the Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos art exhibit!

Day of the Dead
“Grandparents Know It All” by Mexicanos y Latinos en Michigan! from Southeast Michigan
Ofrendas: Celebrating El Dia de Muertos
We attended the DIA Day of the Dead (another term used for Día de Los Muertos) art exhibit at the beginning of October.

WHAT IS EL DIA DE LOS MUERTOS?

El Día De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is a traditional Mexican holiday that is celebrated in Mexico, the United States, and all over the world. Many people confuse El Día De Los Muertos with Halloween because the holiday falls on the same date as Halloween.

It is also a tradition to wear skull-themed face paintings (sugar skulls) and dress up so this may be another reason why people confuse Día de Los Muertos with Halloween.

“This year in the United States, the Day of the Dead is seemingly everywhere with colorful sugar skulls and skeletons being sold by major retailers, and a new animated Pixar movie, “Coco,” that prominently features the holiday.

Although it may appear similar to Halloween, these holidays are vastly different. Instead of focusing on fears and frights, the Day of the Dead is a celebration of life that centers on families gathering together to remember their dead, and inviting them briefly back into their lives.”

Quote from “What is the Day of the Dead?” from the National Council on Family Relations

The Day of the Dead holiday begins on October 31st and ends on November 2nd. According to National Geographic, El Día De Los Muertos was first celebrated with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people several thousand years ago. Now the cherished holiday is celebrated around the world!

"La muerte agarra parejo (Death Takes Equally)" by Ecos de Mexico in Windsor, Canada
“La muerte agarra parejo (Death Takes Equally)” by Ecos de Mexico in Windsor, Canada
"La muerte agarra parejo (Death Takes Equally)" by Ecos de Mexico in Windsor, Canada
“La muerte agarra parejo (Death Takes Equally)” by Ecos de Mexico in Windsor, Canada
ofrenda altar
“La muerte agarra parejo (Death Takes Equally)” by Ecos de Mexico in Windsor, Canada

WHAT IS AN OFRENDA ALTAR?

An ofrenda altar is not an altar for worshipping, as some may confuse it to be. Instead, the altars are used as the centerpiece of the Day of the Dead celebration.

Offerings like food, family photos, and candles are placed on the ofrenda altar as a loving tribute and “to welcome the spirits back to the realm of the living” (National Geographic).

día de los muertos
Ofrenda altars are used as the centerpiece of the Day of the Dead celebration. (Photo I took at the Ofrendas art exhibit at the DIA). Artist credit pending.
día de los muertos
“Mikey” by Justin Mills
día de los muertos
“Day of the Dead Ofrenda” by the Consulate of Mexico in Detroit

“If one of the spirits is a child, you might find small toys on the altar. Marigolds are the main flowers used to decorate the altar. Scattered from altar to gravesite, marigold petals guide wandering souls back to their place of rest. The smoke from copal incense, made from tree resin, transmits praise and prayers and purifies the area around the altar.”

Quote from “Top 10 Things to Know About Day of the Dead” by Logan Ward for National Geographic
día de los muertos
Zhen viewing an ofrenda altar at the DIA.
“Tree of Life” by Wayne State University Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (Fall 2019 Students)
día de los muertos
“Tree of Life” by Wayne State University Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (Fall 2019 Students)
“Tree of Life” by Wayne State University Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (Fall 2019 Students)
"Desconocido (Unknown)" by Joanne Coutts from Detroit, Michigan
“Courage” by Mario Alberto Martinez Mendez from Royal Oak, Michigan
"Desconocido (Unknown)" by Joanne Coutts from Detroit, Michigan
“Courage” by Mario Alberto Martinez Mendez from Royal Oak, Michigan

ABOUT THE DIA’S OFRENDAS: CELEBRATING EL DIA DE MUERTOS ART EXHIBIT

The Detroit Institute of Arts partnered with Detroit’s Mexican Consulate to host the Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos each year around the end of September or early October.

The DIA even offers educational resources to help teach your child about Day of the Dead! I’m using it for my kids’ homeschool studies. Go to the DIA’s website page about the Celebrating el Día de Muertos art exhibit and scroll to the end of the page.

Click on the “LEARNING RESOURCES” image to view the lesson plan options. There are 5 lessons featured on Día de Muertos. It’s a great resource to have because the lessons also connect to the Ofrendas art exhibit.

Ofrendas: Celebrating El Dia de Muertos
Zhen loved the ofrendas art exhibit!
día de los muertos
Travis and the boys viewing a Dia de Los Muertos art exhibit at the DIA.
detroit bloggers
Michala reads a Day of the Dead story to Zephaniah. The DIA had a book corner for little ones to read Day of the Dead literature.
There is a little book corner for kids to read books about Day of the Dead.

EIGHT MORE EL DIA DE LOS MUERTOS LESSON IDEAS

Whether you homeschool your children or your kids go to a private or public school, creating activity and lesson ideas about Day of the Dead is a great way to teach children about a new culture!

Here are a few more El Día de Los Muertos activity and lesson ideas. **PSST! Use my affiliate links to purchase any recommended product. It doesn’t cost you extra and GLD may make a small commission. Thank you for your support!**

  1. Attend an El Día de Los Muertos festival or event (like we did at the DIA in Detroit)!
  2. Check out or buy books to read about Day of the Dead.
  3. Create colorful and creative sugar skull face paintings. (Here’s a post featuring a DIY sugar skull I created for Zhen.
  4. Make a Día de Los Muertos Friday y Diego Paper Collage. (We actually did this last year and had a lot of fun making it!)
  5. Create a DIY ceramic sugar skull.
  6. Watch a Día de Los Muertos read aloud video from Kid Time Story Time.
  7. For older children, click here to watch a 5-minute documentary about “Mexican Day of the Dead” by The British Museum.
  8. Get a Day of the Dead art pack like this one from Michigan creative Jenna of Call Her Happy.
Day of Dead art pack
Day of Dead art pack by Call Her Happy is only $5! (Photo courtesy of Call Her Happy)
día de los muertos
Jenna from Call Her Happy created this fun Día de Los Muertos art pack for kids! (Photo courtesy of Call Her Happy)

GO SEE OFRENDAS: CELEBRATING DIA EL MUERTOS ART EXHIBIT @ THE DIA!

Remember, the Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos art exhibit ends on November 10th so make plans to see it soon! The DIA is open on the following days and times:

Tuesday – Thursday: 9 A.M. to 4 P.M.

Friday: 9 A.M. to 10 P.M.: (Friday Night Live! is a must-see, too!)

Saturday – Sunday: 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.

Monday: CLOSED

Click HERE for more information about the Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos art exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan!


MORE PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE OFRENDAS: CELEBRATING EL DIA DE MUERTOS ART EXHIBIT

Ofrendas Altar
“Robert Wilbert, Artist” by Jeanne Penney from Detroit, Michigan
día de los muertos
“Robert Wilbert, Artist” by Jeanne Penney from Detroit, Michigan
dia de Los Muertos
“11/11 10/20” by Madelyn Owens from Detroit, Michigan
día de los muertos
“A Sweet Offering for a Celebration of Love” by Higo Gabarron, Lorraine Ranchod, and Rachel Martinez-Finn from Shaker Heights and Clevland Heights, OH
día de los muertos
“La muerte agarra parejo” (Death Takes Equally) by Ecos de Mexico in Windsor, Canada.
día de los muertos
“La muerte agarra parejo” (Death Takes Equally) by Ecos de Mexico in Windsor, Canada.
Day of the Dead
“Respect for Human Dignity: 43 Reasons” by Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan
“Respect for Human Dignity: 43 Reasons” by Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan
“Respect for Human Dignity: 43 Reasons” by Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan
“Respect for Human Dignity: 43 Reasons” by Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan
“Christopher: The Healer” by Patricia Pfaendtner from Macomb Township, MI.
Ofrendas Altar
“Christopher: The Healer” by Patricia Pfaendtner from Macomb Township, MI. (I really liked this ofrenda altar. It was so creative and incredibly sweet.
Christopher: The Healer
“Christopher: The Healer” by Patricia Pfaendtner from Macomb Township, MI.
Christopher: The Healer
“Christopher: The Healer” by Patricia Pfaendtner from Macomb Township, MI.
"Desconocido (Unknown)" by Joanne Coutts from Detroit, Michigan
“Desconocido (Unknown)” by Joanne Coutts from Detroit, Michigan
“Map of Migrant Deaths in the Arizona Borderlands 2001 to Present”
Ofrendas Art Exhibit Detroit
“Desconocido (Unknown)” by Joanne Coutts from Detroit, Michigan
Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos
Visit the Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos art exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan!

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All photographs, with the exception of the Day of the Dead art pack, are courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.

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