By Lauren Friederman, Reporter
Looking for a taste of culture this week? Learn about the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos while enjoying local art at the Art Forum.
The Art Forum, a local art gallery located at 1826 Morrow Ave., is featuring a special art exhibition in celebration of Dia de los Muertos. This exhibit is open for viewing this week through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission to the gallery is free, although patrons can donate. There’s a coloring section for kids to color their own skulls.
Dia de los Muertos is a pre-Hispanic celebration of Mexican origin during which people lovingly remember their departed family members and friends. The holiday originated with the indigenous people who were conquered by the Spanish. Dia de los Muertos as it is celebrated today is a product of the blending of two cultures, indigenous and Hispanic. As part of the celebration, families put together an offering for the dead. The offering includes symbolic elements such as water, salt and fire as well as possessions of the deceased.
The exhibition at the forum features various types of art, each piece a different interpretation of Dia de los Muertos. An open invitation was extended to the community to fill the gallery, and about 20 artists responded, decorating the walls with a variety of work. The work of McGregor ISD middle school students is also featured.
Brightly colored papel picado hangs from the ceiling, complimented by bright tissue paper flowers arranged throughout the room. The exhibit boasts an eclectic collection of art ranging from acrylic pieces, to paper mache skulls, to pastels, to pieces done entirely in marker.
In the first room of the gallery is a large exhibit dedicated to deceased artist Rodolfo Razo. Razo came to Waco to help start the Art Forum. When he passed away, he left his artwork and his bank account, Art Forum owner Arthur Huron said.
The purpose of the exhibit is to educate the community about Dia de los Muertos, Art Forum co-owner Jesus Rivera said.
“All of us in the community, we pass through the same pain,” Jesus Rivera said. “Day of the Dead is about love. It’s about culture, color and happiness.”
Another purpose for the exhibit is preservation.
“I like to show our traditions to other cultures and at the same time preserve our festivities for our Latin or Mexican people,” artist Rocio Ramirez said. “It’s very important for me that they remember the origin, and they feel very proud of our cultures, and we don’t lose our identity.”
Baylor Spanish professor Deborah Manzanares had her Spanish classes come see the exhibit so they could experience for themselves the traditions of Dia de los Muertos.
“It’s a very important cultural activity for my students to see,” Manzanares said.
The Art Forum first opened in April 2012. A new exhibition is featured every two to three months. Rivera is passionate about art and its effect on the community.
“I believe art is essential in a community because it helps children to have more good desires in life and have more respect for different perspectives,” Rivera said. “For some people, art can be a painting or a sculpture, but for others it can be very bright, and for other people it can be very calm.”
Although keeping the Art Forum alive is hard, Rivera said he hopes that it can exist for years to come and serve as his legacy.
“This place is for Waco, not for me,” Rivera said.