Indianapolis Art Center hosts the city's largest Day of the Dead celebration on

Saturday, Oct. 29, with five hours of traditional Mexican food, music and arts

activities. But the Art Center's slate of programming for the Day of the Dead,

or Dia de los Muertos,

involves much more than the one-day event. The festivities include, among other

things, exhibitions by three prominent artists in the Art Center's galleries

this month and next.

One of the

featured artists, Salvador Jimènez,

uses an exhibition entitled Behind the


to honor Latin Americans who died while attempting to immigrate to the

United States.


chosen to pay tribute to several immigrants who died pursuing the dream of

migrating to the U.S. for a better life," Jimènez says. "As a metaphor of the shared dream

that killed them, I have created each of their altars as a personalized

portrait using the same basic mask outline. Behind

the Mask is intended to pay homage to people that died tragically,

remembering them with dignity and respect for the lives they lived and the

dreams they boldly pursued."


creating the personalized portraits, the Chicago-based artist exhaustively

researched the lives of individuals who died while emigrating from Latin


. "Using the information that I found about how the life of the

individual was like before their death," Jimènez says, "I had to use my imagination and

immerse myself in their stories and try to highlight their life."


those memorialized by Jimènez

are Reymundo Barreda and

his 15-year-old son, Reymundo Jr. The artist says of Barreda, "He was a strong man. All he wanted to do was

get enough money to build a house for his wife."

Barreda struggled to earn a

living as a farmer in the Mexican city of Veracruz. Jimènez cites the North American Free Trade Agreement as

contributing to the desperate plight of farmers in Latin America. "That

has become one of the main reasons why so many farmers have immigrated to the

States," he says.

Jimènez created a luchador mask, which traditionally is worn by a Mexican

fighter, for each of the individuals honored through his art. "All of

these people died trying to pursue the same dream," he says. "The

mask represents the fighter aspect of trying to go through all this hardship,

trying to cross the border and running out of water, and all the things they

went through."

For Barreda, Jimènez chose to surround his subject's mask with

farming tools. As for Reymundo Jr., who, Jimènez says, was the

star of his local soccer league, the artist chose to position a soccer ball

prominently below the teenager's mask. Two rows of marbles, representing youth,

direct the viewer's eyes to the ball, which rests atop the deep, capillary-like

roots of a tree.

Jimènez can fully appreciate the significance of the Day of the

Dead tradition, as he spent his early years living in a rural part of Mexico. "I

grew up in a community that views death as the continuation of life," he

says. "Instead of fearing death, we embraced it and celebrated the Day of

the Dead, remembering our loved ones that have passed away."

Asked how

he anticipates people will respond to his exhibition, Jimènez says, "I hope that the viewer can see the

human aspect behind the mask and that everyone deserves to be treated humanely

and with respect."

Other artists and activities


addition to Jimènez's

work, the Art Center is also featuring the painting, sculpture and video

creations of Charles Gick in the Clowes

and Hurt Galleries from Oct. 7 to Nov. 27. In the Ruth Lilly Library, Beatriz

Vasquez Schlebecker

shows off the elaborate beauty of

papelpicado, a

Mexican folk art involving cut paper, in an exhibition running from Sept. 30 to

Nov. 20.


community altar is open to the public from Oct. 7 to Nov. 27 in the Art Center's

Churchman-Fehsenfeld Gallery and Frank M. Basile Gallery. This year's altar focuses on three inspirational

children, each of whom made significant contributions toward global peace and

goodwill. Visitors to the community altar are encouraged to bring a toy, which

will be donated to local children dealing with homelessness.


shrine exhibition can be viewed at the Art Center's Community Gallery and

Outreach Gallery from Oct. 14 to Nov. 27. The shrine gives people the

opportunity to honor deceased loved ones. This year's shrine also features the

folk art traditions of nichos

and retablos.

The Art

Center is offering 45-minute Day of the Dead tours, several activities for

kids, and a series of artist workshops, including one hosted by the

aforementioned Charles Gick in which participants will

learn how to preserve a memory artistically through the creation of an

encaustic painting.

For more

details on the multitude of events connected to the Day of the Dead

celebration, visit


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