October 28, 2015

What to expect at AAC’s annual Dia de los Muertos celebration

By Kaity O’Reilly, Arlington Arts Center’s Education and Outreach Intern

Dia de los Muertos skulls
Dia de los Muertos skulls

With autumn in full swing and October almost over, everyone’s favorite spooky holiday, Halloween, is just around the corner.

While you’re stocking up on candy and deciding on what ghoulish gear to wear, there’s another holiday to keep in mind that focuses on the reunion of family and loved ones after death, as opposed to the fear and scariness that Halloween thrives on.

Join us this Friday, October 30th from 6 – 8 PM to celebrate this thousands-year-old tradition of Day of the Dead. The event is free to all ages and below you’ll find a sneak peek of this year’s festivities!

Aztec Dance - photo by Sherrie Thai
Aztec Dance – photo by Sherrie Thai

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) has been woven into Mexican culture, but the roots of this holiday can be traced all the way back to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the ruler of the underworld, and they actually celebrated it during a completely different month; August, in fact!

You might be wondering how it ended up being celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd.

When the Spaniards colonized Mexico in the 16th Century, they moved the dates to coincide with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Now the holiday is celebrated world-wide, even right here in Arlington at AAC!

Be sure you come to our Day of the Dead festival ready to dance, eat, and create! To kick off the event, there will be a live band, Mariachi La Monarcha, performing traditional music throughout the galleries as you enjoy the festivities.

Ballet Forklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana
Ballet Forklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana

Once you’ve gotten into the groove, Ballet Forklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana will exhibit customary dances highlighting Mexican folklore heritage at 6:30 PM followed by complimentary dance lessons beginning at 7 PM.

Throughout the night we’ll be serving a special bread, pan de muerto, (bread of the dead), which is baked specifically to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. Traditionally, this bread is eaten by families at the gravesite or altar of their deceased loved one, but we’ll be providing this sugary, sweet bread with perfectly paired Mexican hot chocolate. If you’re in the mood for more, the DC food truck La Tingeria will be parked out front with tons of tasty tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, and more!

Veronica Perez, Mi Corazon, 2015, Acrylic on canvas
Veronica Perez, Mi Corazon, 2015, Acrylic on canvas

At the center of this event will be the opening of AAC’s annual exhibition, featuring 13 local artists displaying works of art interpreting and depicting the theme of Dia de los Muertos.

The exhibition, entitled Eternal Love, will contain artworks that were specifically chosen to create and reflect on the theme of “eternal love” that is nestled in the heart of the tradition of Dia de los Muertos.

These works explore the various relationships and forms that love can take during one’s life and how the bonds we create continue long after we are gone.

The artists featured in this year’s exhibition include David Amoroso, Andrey Bogoslowsky, Marcos Carvalho, Freddy Duran, David Flores, Ariel Gustavo Forselledo, Jodie Gordon, Maria Illingworth, Jobi Jovanka Magana, Kate Patsch, Anne PellicciottoVeronica Perez, and Henrik Sundqvist.

These works were selected through an open call to artists sent throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. One of the artists, David Amoroso, has helped coordinate this event year after year.

Andrey Bogoslowsky, Love, forever together, Sand and acrylic on canvas, 58” x 42”
Andrey Bogoslowsky, Love, forever together, Sand and acrylic on canvas, 58” x 42”

The work of these artists depict much of the imagery and ideas associated with the Day of the Dead, such as sugar skulls, marigolds, and skeletons.

To learn more about these images and what they represent to this holiday, check out our post from last year.

We don’t just want you to view art at AAC, we also encourage you to create your own Day of the Dead-themed art! Leading up to the event, AAC will provide workshops for artists aged 7 – 10 and 11 – 14.

Instructors Robert French and Jennifer Wilkin Penick will help students find inspiration in historic traditions and themes to create works of art that reflect on the ties that bind past and present.

Can’t make it to the workshop but still want to participate? Join us in a free activity for all ages and artistic abilities during the event. You’ll create a one-of-a-kind Day of the Dead-themed piece so you can celebrate the holiday all year long.

Now that you’ve had a preview of all the fun and festivities in store, we hope to see you here at AAC this Friday, October 30th from 6 – 8 PM (that is, if you don’t also join us for the workshops)!

Schedule of Events for AAC’s Day of the Dead

4:30 – 6 PM: Arts workshops for ages 7-10 and 11 – 14 in Classrooms A and B*
6 – 8 PM: Pan de muerto and hot chocolate served in the Tiffany Gallery
6 – 8 PM: Free art activities in Classroom B
6 – 8 PM: La Tingeria food truck out front
6:30 – 7 PM: Ballet Forklorico performance on the back patio
7 – 7:30 PM: Dancing lessons in the Tiffany Gallery
7 – 8 PM: Performance and live music by Mariachi La Monarcha

*advance registration required

Arlington Community Foundation logo Corporate Apartment Specialists logo



Day of the Dead at AAC is generously sponsored by Corporate Apartment Specialists and Arlington Community Foundation

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