Due to the belief that the dead would be insulted by mourning or sadness, the Day of the Dead is a traditionally Mexican holiday in which the living celebrate and commemorate the dead.
Latino artists were invited by Palmetto Luna to be a part of a Day of the Dead exhibit on display at the TAPPS Art Center, whether it be through painting the walls of the studio, leaving a memento to a loved one or creating something entirely unique.
“We want to highlight Latino artists, because we want to recognize these individuals and let people know what kind of art the Latino community has to offer,” Ivan Segura, secretary director of Palmetto Luna, a Midlands nonprofit, said. “This isn’t an exhibit that we’ve had planned for weeks or anything like that; we just want people to bring the talents that they have here to create a special community piece.”
The Day of the Dead, originating in Mexico, is a day in which the living can honor the dead through festivals and lively celebrations.
Along with giving people the opportunity to add their own creative entities to the installation, paintings created by Latino community members decorated the outside of the exhibit.
The South Carolina Latina Project, an organization that seeks to build up young Latinas and help them to celebrate their cultural heritage, recently partnered up with Palmetto Luna for the Day of the Dead festivities.
Ambassadors for the program, adorned in traditional Day of the Dead skeleton makeup, walked around TAPPS asking visitors to come and participate in the studio.
Mike Young, a Latino poet who was invited to be involved with the event by writing mantras on the walls of the exhibit, explained that he tried to incorporate small vignettes of individuals who had passed on.
“I tried to distill it into something you can taste and smell and feel tangibly through words,” Young said.
The goal of Palmetto Luna is to “foster an understanding of the Hispanic/Latino culture by promoting artistic creation and providing opportunities for cultural expression for the community in South Carolina.”
In addition to the art exhibit, Palmetto Luna also set up a shrine for the Day of the Dead at the Five Points fountain. Palmetto Luna will host a festival at the fountain Saturday, featuring cultural activities for the entire Columbia community.
The South Carolina Latina Project is continuing its celebration of heritage with a fashion show on Sunday. Along with having the young Latinas dress in traditional Hispanic attire for the show, they will also have each girl speak about their future goals and aspirations.
“I’ve had children come up to me and ask ‘Do Mexicans have the same color blood as we do?’ But they’re children! They don’t mean anything bad,” Vanessa Mota, director for the South Carolina Latina Project, said. “This is why it is our job to educate. Just like we get educated through people, it is our job to educate people on how Latino people live day by day.”
There were participants of all ages at the event on Thursday. One of the most familiar symbols for the Day of the Dead is the calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls), which cover everything from parade masks to candy.
Mike Young, a Latino poet who was invited to participate in the Palmetto Luna exhibition, remembers his grandfather as he celebrates the Day of the Dead.
Visitors to the Day of the Dead exhibit at TAPPS were invited to contribute their own pieces to the installation, whether it be words, mementos or something all together original.
The Day of the Dead shrine, located in front of the fountain in Five Points, is decorated with photos, notes and other keepsakes commemorating family members that have passed on.