This Saturday and Sunday, Memphis will host it's very own Day of the Dead celebration, courtesy of the Brooks Museum of Art, the University of Memphis, and Danza Azteca Quetzalcoatl de Memphis - an independent project created in 2002 by Noe Ramirez to preserve the ancestral tradition of sacred, pre-Hispanic, Aztec dances and rituals. The event - which usually takes place on Novmber 1st and 2nd, corresponding to the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day - aims to convey the cultural importance of Dia de los Muertos, as well as reinforce the Latino community's heritage in Memphis. The free celebration will follow the traditional customs of the long-established Mexican holiday meant to honor the souls of those who have passed away. Altars known as Ofrendas are lavishly decorated with offerings to the dead, and everyone is welcome to participate by bringing along a photo of a lost loved-one to place on a community altar, on display at the university's Art and Communication Building throughout the celebration.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Brooks will feature music from Mariachi Guadalajara, elaborate sugar skull face painting, screenings of animated short films, and many skeleton-like Catrinas - made widely recognizable by José Guadalupe Posada. The museum will also hold its own exhibition of ofrendas made by area students, in the education gallery, and volunteers from the Latino community will hold a papel picado workshop in the Brooks' education studio. The classic Mexican folk art of delicate tissue paper cut into intricate designs is central to Dia de los Muertos decoration. CazaTeatro - the first Hispanic theatrical group in Memphis, founded in 2006 - will perform two shows in the Dorothy K. Hohenberg Auditorium at 10:30 a.m. and noon, and Danza Azteca Quetzalcoatl de Memphis will perform on the Brooks Plaza at 1 p.m. to close the day's activities. The celebration will continue on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the University of Memphis, with more performances from CazaTeatro, Danza Azteca Quetzalcoatl, and female mariachi group Las Palomas.