Merced’s Multicultural Arts Center (MAC) and UC Merced teamed up this year for the MAC’s 20th annual Day of the Dead celebration, held last Saturday, Nov. 2.
Día de los Muertos is celebrated from Oct. 31 through November 2. The time is reserved for praying and celebrating, gathering and uniting communities in one big cultural event.
“I want to thank the Arts Center for having a marvelous cultural place that embraces the diversity in our community,” said Oscar Torres, one of the contributors to the Dia de los Muertos exhibition. “Day of the dead is an important part of my culture and my traditions.”
Torres, along with fellow artists, Ruben A. Sanchez and Eve Delfin, were honored for their contributions to the Day of the Dead exhibition during the event. Each contributed beautiful alters, honoring family members and friends who had passed.
“Thank you, Merced Multicultural Arts Center and the Merced community, for continuing this important celebration as we honor those who have passed,” Delfin said. “It is so important that we remember our ancestors and our heritage.”
A 17-foot statue — a version of the famed La Catrina image — towered over exhibition goers as they walked into the MAC gallery, also adorned with colorful “papel picado” — a traditional Mexican festive decoration. Altars honoring loved ones who have passed on were topped with many trinkets, food, and heartfelt messages.
Artwork featuring themes of sugar skulls, life and death, and Mexican culture adore the walls of the hallways, leading upstairs where more artwork and alters.
The event continued through the night as live music, face painting, and free food was provided for event goers by the MAC. Groups of people made their way down Main Street toward Bob Hart Square, honoring the dead with loud music, played by a band that marched along with the crowd, and a group of Mexican folk dancers.
“Everything is so full of life,” said Viviana Lopez, a local Winton native said. “You wouldn’t think we were celebrating death. This is a party.”