About Día de los Muertos

In recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr’s 50th anniversary of the march on Washington, D.C., as well as his visit to the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University South Bend, a collaboration to present several Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) events are scheduled.

There will be three festivities that are “free and open to the community,”  For more information visit https://artsandculture.nd.edu/crossroads-gallery/dia-de-los-muertos-day-of-the-dead/

What is the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)?

The Día de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition that gives honor, tribute, and celebrates the lives of deceased loved ones. Celebrated between October 31 and November 2 by people in Mexico, parts of Central and South America, and increasingly throughout the US, the Day of the Dead is not a mournful occasion, but a festive remembrance in celebration of loved ones that have passed.

Bringing food and music, families visit the graves of their loved ones, cleaning the headstones and decorating them with flowers all in loving memory. Images of skeletons dancing or doing other comical things are common and a part of the philosophy that death is not to be feared, but a natural part of life.

What is an Ofrenda?

The celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in homes, creating altars are called ofrendas that display portraits, favorite foods, or personal possessions of their deceased loved ones. Ofrendas are also decorated with candles and marigolds (cempoalxóchitl), whose light and scent are said to attract the souls of the deceased and draw them back for a brief time to take part in the pleasures they enjoyed in life. The symbolism is that they live on in the memories of the living and are not forgotten.

Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture Artist: Diógenes Ballester


Diogenes Ballester will create an ofrenda in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., an American clergyman, activist, and leader in the African American civil rights movement. This installation will include many of the traditional elements but will have a more contemporary style. Diogenes Ballester is a visual artist, educator, and writer. He holds a M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.F.A. from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. As a youth, he attended the prestigious art preparatory School of Visual Arts Miguel Pou and studied at the Ponce Museum of Art in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Ballester works in various artistic media including painting, printmaking, drawing, new media, and installation art. Recognized as a master encaustic painter and printmaker; he has received numerous honors for his artistic work. He has exhibited widely in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin American and the Caribbean. For more information about this artist, visit his website at: http://www.diogenes-ballester.com


Indiana University Civil Rights Heritage Center Artist: Jake Webster


Jake Webster is a popular local artist, sculptor, mixed media artist and spoken word performer. His work speaks about his community and the environment in which he lives. He uses the tradition of direct carving, and applies a contemporary attitude by creating art with whatever is at hand to tell his story. “I use simple tools to cut simple shapes to make a simple statement about a simple world we have made more complex.” J. Webster

In 1974, with generous support from the Vatican, Jake spent a semester aboard studying art in Italy. Webster later received his Bachelor of Science in 1975 from Mississippi Valley State University in Art Education. He continued his studies at Purdue University Summer Institute (1982), The Art Students League of New York (1991), and DePaul University – Office of Applied Innovations (1999).

Jake’s work can be found in many private and public collections. His studio is located in Elkhart, Indiana and is usually open to the public on weekends, or by appointment. He is co-owner of and curator for Artpost in South Bend, Indiana; a gallery and performance space that specializes in regional contemporary and folk art. For more information about this artist, visit his website at: www.artpostblog.com/jakewebster/vita

October 16, 2013: Musical Performance by Luther Gray

Renowned percussionist Luther Gray from New Orleans, LA, (originally from the Midwest), now is considered by many- as a “Native Orleanian”. He received his B.A. in Radio, Television & Film from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a Masters in Communication from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. This drumming sensation has created two major musical groups: Percussion Incorporated and Bamboula 2000, for which he has won the Big Easy Music Award in the World Music Category twice. He is also credited with the founding of the Congo Square Foundation, which began in 1989. The foundation is to bring cultural activities and drumming back to the historic Congo Square in New Orleans. In 1994, the foundation was successful in registering Congo Square on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information about this artist, visit his website at: http://www.positivevibrationsfoundation.org/musicians/detail/5/Luther-Gray

October 16, 2013: Musical Performance by Notre Dame Students, Mariachi Band ND

For a sample of their performance, visit this website at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpfsOz8Dpqc


Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Presented by: