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Dia de los Muertos art bridges cultural differences at Oklahoma City schools

Oklahoma City schools students learned about the Hispanic holiday of Dia de los Muertos and created colorful artwork.
BY VALLERY BROWN Modified: October 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm •  Published: November 1, 2012

Colorful skulls, bright and fragrant marigolds, altars and images with references to death might seem like a spinoff of Halloween to those not familiar with Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. But the Mexican holiday is about honoring deceased loved ones.

Oklahoma City students learned about the holiday and created works of art that are now on display. The artwork includes colorful drawings, ornate altars and three-dimensional pieces.

“This isn't scary, evil or bad stuff,” said Susan Gabbard, director of visual and performing arts for Oklahoma City Public Schools. “This is about honoring your loved ones.”

Throughout Mexico and in much of Latin America, Nov. 1, All Saints Day, and Nov. 2, All Souls Day, are marked with food, reunions and a variety of cultural customs. Nov. 1 is set aside for remembering dead infants and children. Adults who have died are honored on Nov. 2.

This is the fourth year student artwork has been displayed at the Gold Dome at NW 23 and Classen Boulevard. Gabbard said artwork from 15 elementary schools, two middle schools and three high schools will be showcased.

Art teachers introduced students to traditional artwork made for Dia de los Muertos, Gabbard said. The results span from folk-art inspired to modern dioramas.

“With the growth in the Hispanic population of our school district, it makes sense to bring information forward to our students to celebrate this tradition and introduce others to the meaning of Day of the Dead,” Gabbard said.

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