Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday coincides with the United States’ Halloween, and despite some differences, there’s plenty of overlap in the emphasis on skulls and skeletons, costumes and sweet treats.
Starting Thursday and continuing to mid-November, you can learn more about the Day of the Dead and participate in festivities at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Mattie Rhodes Center.
A central element of Day of the Dead celebrations is an altar, or ofrenda, for remembering the dead. Since 2011, the Nelson has celebrated the Day of the Dead by commissioning an altar for display in Kirkwood Hall. This year’s altar is being created by Miguel Angel Rivera, head of printmaking at the Kansas City Art Institute, with Art Institute students and artists from Mattie Rhodes.
Thursday, from 6 to 7 p.m., Rivera and museum director Julian Zugazagoitia will speak in the museum’s Atkins Auditorium about Rivera’s altar, which honors writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The work is lit from within and incorporates projected images from a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, where Rivera did research on Day of the Dead traditions.
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On Sunday, the museum will hold a free family day celebration of the Day of the Dead from 1 to 4 p.m. Visitors can see the altar in Kirkwood Hall and watch dance performances by Mors Celare and El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco; listen to readings by the Latin Writers Collective and music by Los Musicos Mariachis and El Trio Aztlan.
Free prints will be available from the Print Factory, as will sugar skulls to decorate. Mexican finger food will be for sale in the Bloch Building Lobby (1 to 4 p.m.), and Rozzelle Court Restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Through Nov. 15, you can see more Day of the Dead altars — and artworks exploring the theme — at the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery, 915 W. 17th St., during regular gallery hours from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
The museum will hold a First Fridays reception for the show from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 7, when it will also hold a Calaca (skeleton) Parade.
Alice Thorson, The Star