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Día de Muertos: Traditional Arts for Your Classroom

This popular annual workshop offers educators a first-hand look at the traditions of Día de Muertos. Learn directly from Seattle-based Mexican artists about the cultural, artistic, and musical traditions of this important holiday. Try engaging, hands-on activities that will help your students gain a better understanding of Day of the Dead. Join us for a new variety of activities and resources for your classroom.

Educator Workshop ~ Día de Muertos: Traditional Arts for Your Classroom

October 11, 2008

Once again, this popular annual workshop offered twenty-eight Washington State educators a first-hand look at the traditions of Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Two Seattle-based Mexican artists and Isaac Hernández Ruiz, shared their cultural and artistic traditions of this important cultural holiday.

The morning began with an introduction from the Seattle International Children's Festival and their programs for this coming year. Then artist Fulgencio Lazo spoke of his experience and traditions originating from Oaxaca and taught three different activities to bring into the classroom. The participants were able to choose which art projects would be suitable for their classroom, depending on supplies, as well as the age of the students; some teachers were able to try all three activities!

After breaking for lunch, we previewed educational resources available from the Burke Museum. Burke Museum educators presented The "Day of the Dead" and the "Mexico" Burke Boxes, two of our traveling study collections. They are available for rent from the Burke Museum; the boxes include lesson plans and hands-on artifacts enhancing the classroom experience.

This was followed by the presentation by local Mexican artist Isaac Hernández Ruiz. He began with an engaging discussion of his ofrenda, or altar, on display at the Burke Museum. As we examined the colorful altar, which welcomes the dead with pictures, flowers, food, and their belongings in life and Isaac shared details of the traditions that go along with Dia de Muertos and openly answered questions from the teachers.

After the group tour, Isaac taught the tradition of block printing, especially as it is practiced in Mexico. Participants created their own block prints by carving images and words onto linoleum and wood blocks. Isaac and his colleagues helped us print our images onto paper.

See you next year for this popular annual workshop!

What did the participants have to say?

 

  • "You gave great curriculum materials and great resources to use!"
  • "It was fun and I learned a lot that I can use in the classroom."
  • "That was Fabulous! I learned so much more and understood how I can further it with my children."

 

Día de Muertos: Traditional Arts for Your Classroom Teacher Workshop


October 13, 2007

Dìa de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a festive celebration in Latin America when people welcome the spirits of the dead into their homes and communities. The Dìa de Muertos: Traditional Arts for Your ClassroomTeacher Workshop at the Burke Museum was a great introduction to the traditions of Dìa de Muertos in Mexico. Twenty-five local teachers had the unique opportunity to learn about the holiday from two local Mexican artists.

The morning began with the ofrenda, or altar, created by artist Isaac Hernàndez Ruiz at the Burke Museum. As we examined the colorful altar, which welcomes the dead with pictures, flowers, food, and their belongings in life, Isaac shared details of the traditions that go along with Dìa de Muertos.

This was followed by an introduction to the tradition of block printing, especially as it is practiced in Mexico. After a short lecture by Isaac, we created our own block prints by carving images and words onto linoleum and wood blocks.  Isaac and his colleagues helped us print our images onto paper.

After lunch, we met Fulgencio Lazo, another Seattle artist from Mexico. He shared the traditions of Dìa de Muertos from his native region, Oaxaca. He then taught us the art of tapete, or sand painting. Tapete are vibrantly colored paintings created using damp sand and powdered tempera paint. We were able to make our own tapete in small groups using traditional Day of the Dead imagery, such as calaveras, or skulls, and marigolds.

Finally, we previewed resources available from the Burke Museum and the Seattle International Children’s Festival. The "Day of the Dead" traveling study collection, which is available for rent from the Burke Museum, includes lesson plans and can be used to make a classroomofrenda, complete with calaveras, papel picado, and other traditional objects.

The reviews are in:

"The historical background made the art project all the more valuable and the project was just plain fun!"

"Very interesting and a wonderful craft to do with students. Easy, colorful, and unique."

"Maravilloso! I definitely see this happening at my school this year."

"I am thankful for the … materials… to incorporate into my lesson plan(s) this month."

"Wonderful, I learned lots!!"

Dia de los muertos illustration
Illustration: Pencil by Isaac Hernandez Ruiz, Color by Jami Waggoner
Educator Keely Gnagy with Ofrenda
Burke Museum Educator Keely Gnagy with Ofrenda.
Photo by Julie Stein
teachers working on blocks
Teachers working on blocks.
Photo by Melissa Todd
Finished tapeta.
Finished tapeta.
Photo by Keely Gnagy
Day of the Dead dot painting
A workshop participant makes a dot painting, a Day of the Dead art project taught by artist Fulgencio Lazo.
Photo by Gloriann Glenn
Day of the Dead ofrenda
Workshop participants got an in-depth look at the Dia de Meurtos ofrenda created by a local Mexican artist.
Photo by Gloriann Glenn
Day of the Dead block prints with Isaac
Participants made block prints with artist Isaac Hernandez Ruiz.
Photo by Gloriann Glenn