Hundreds attended the 23rd Annual Días De Los Muertos (Days of the Dead) community celebration at the Oakland Museum of California on Sunday to celebrate community and to honor family members who have died. The festival coincided with the opening of the museum’s Metamorphosis & Migration: Days of the Dead exhibit. The exhibit highlights the work of local artists that tells stories of immigration and pays tribute to lost loved ones. Included in the exhibit is work by Chris Treggiari and Peter Foucault, whose sculptural work honors victims of the Ghost Ship Fire that in December, 2016, claimed the lives of more than 30 people in Oakland. Also featured in the exhibit is butterfly imagery by Oakland-based artist Favianna Rodriquez that speaks to migratory experiences.
The lively Day of the Dead festival offered a range of activities for families including face painting, a festive mercado, and arts and crafts. Music and dance performances were scheduled throughout the day and drew large audiences. The performances ranged from folkloric dance to mariachi, and at the base of the stage enthusiastic costumed children with painted faces and danced along to the music. Themed “Off the Grid” food vendors served heaping plates of tacos, burrito bowls, pupusas, and the traditional Mexican dish huarache, a plate of fried masa topped with salsa, onions, potato and ground meat. Indoors, people lined up for a popular tortilla-making demonstration that resulted in a delicious handmade masa tortilla.
Set up around the festival grounds were several altars that celebrated the memories of those that had passed. Created by members of the community, these altars were meant to facilitate healing and remembrance for children and adults alike.