Burke Museum Home

Past Education Event


Día de Muertos: Traditional Arts for Your Classroom Teacher Workshop

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."

Washington State educators got a first-hand look at the traditions of Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Seattle-based Mexican artists, including Isaac Hernández Ruiz, shared their cultural and artistic traditions of this important cultural holiday. 

workshop participant makes a 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
Workshop participants
Workshop participants got an in-depth look at the Dia de Meurtos ofrenda created by a local Mexican artist.
Photo by Gloriann Glenn
Participants made block prints
Participants made block prints with artist Isaac Hernandez Ruiz.
Photo by Gloriann Glenn