News Release
University Affairs Office
1801 E. Cotati Avenue
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(707) 664-2057
    November 1, 2004      File #
    Contact: Jean Wasp, Media Relations Coordinator, (707) 664-2057, >


"Day of the Dead" Altars Exhibit Celebrates Memories of the Deceased, November 2-6

There is nothing bleak or saddening about the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altar exhibit at Sonoma State Universityís InterCultural Center. Though the altars and shrine honor those who have passed on, they are festively decorated with food, candles, flowers, and pictures.

The altars are bright and colorful, and express the time-honored reverence of the dead among those in the Latino community. This annual exhibit will be on display through Saturday, Nov. 6.

Mexican tradition holds that every Nov. 2, families visit loved onesí graves and tombs, bring their favorite foods, decorate the grave site with flowers, paper cutouts and candles, then hold a feast in the deceasedís honor. In the instance that a family cannot visit a gravesite, an altar, or ofrenda, is erected in place of the grave itself.

Items such as pictures of the deceased, their favorite foods, skulls made of white sugar, candles, and Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead bread) are arranged on top of the ofrenda. Through this tradition, memories of ancestors and the recently deceased are kept alive.

The ofrendas at Sonoma Stateís InterCultural Center reflect both memories of individuals and the memories of groups of people. An ofrenda erected by the Lambda Theta Nu sorority pays homage to all women, and is adorned with pictures of the Virgen de Guadalupe, Frida Kahlo, and snapshots of aunts and grandmothers who have passed on. Another ofrenda is dedicated to those who have lost their lives in the conflict in Iraq, and include many images of Iraqis, U.S. troops, and foreign allies.

There are individual ofrendas dedicated to the memory of Mexican-American journalist Ruben Salazar, and former SSU student Ronnie Respress, who passed away in 2003. Both ofrendas include pictures and written stories about the person.

This exhibit is sponsored by the The InterCultural Center, MEChA de Sonoma, Lambda Theta Nu Sorority Inc, and Sonoma State University. It will be on display in the InterCultural Center Gallery through Nov. 6.

For more information on this event, contact A. Darius Spearman at (707) 664-2710 or by email at

Digital photos of the altars are available upon request from Jean Wasp, (707) 664-2057.


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Last Modified: 11/01/2004