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Día de Los Muertos event at SPARC in 2019 (images courtesy SPARC)

Every fall, on Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), families in Mexico and beyond come together to remember and celebrate their loved ones who have deceased. At the heart of the ritual is a beautiful altar featuring sugar skulls, marigolds, and the portraits of those who have died.

In Los Angeles, there are always several festivities around Día de los Muertos, including at the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice. Every year, the community art space builds an altar where visitors are welcome to place photos of their loved ones. While you won’t be able to visit the altar in-person this year, you can still send photographs to be included in the altar, which will be live-streamed for a “Calling of the Spirits” ritual on Monday, November 2.

Since 2002, the ritual has been led by the artist Martha Ramirez-Oropeza (who also teaches an amazing-sounding class at the University of California, Los Angeles called “The Day of the Dead Ritual,” in which students build their own altars). Over email, Ramirez-Oropeza explained that the ritual is comprised of three parts: first, invoking the spirits; then inviting them to celebrate Día de los Muertos; and culminating with an “exchange of candles and food,” during which the living reminisce about the dead. For those planning on participating and tuning in, you will be encouraged to share the name of your honored loved one during the invocation ritual.

This year, the ritual will specially honor the 230,000-plus lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a representative of SPARC said, “This is an experience of loss that affects all of us.” As grieving together has been unbearably challenging during the pandemic, perhaps Día de los Muertos will provide a much-needed outlet.

When: Monday, November 2, 6pm (PST)
Where: Zoom

More info at SPARC

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Elisa Wouk Almino

Elisa Wouk Almino is a senior editor at Hyperallergic. She is based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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