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The Tower Pulse

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Bridge to the beyond

A walk through the DIA’s ofrenda exhibits

An annual tradition, ofrendas are altars built to honor the dead in the Mexican celebration of All Souls’ Day. In conjunction with the Mexican Consul of Detroit, the DIA is featuring an exhibit of ofrendas made by local Detroit artists to remember the passed loved ones. While museums are normally relatively quiet, a pin dropping could be heard in this exhibit. Museumgoers refrained from talking above a whisper—it felt disrespectful towards the ofrendas’ subjects to speak any louder. To add to the ambiance, the lights in the rooms were dimmed to emphasize the flickering of candles and reflect the serious tone of the exhibit.
The exhibits weren’t just traditional ofrendas; many artists infused nuanced political and social messages into their ofrendas. One ofrenda offered tribute to undocumented loved ones who have passed; another honored the memory of journalists who lost their lives or were silenced while trying to spread the truth. Hitting close to home, one ofrenda remembered the lives lost in the recent MSU shooting that rocked Grosse Pointe to its core.
Complimenting the creativity in messages, not a single ofrenda was alike. Every ofrenda offered some new aspect in the way they rendered homage to lost loved ones. The most creative ofrenda in the exhibit was one dedicated to the artist’s Italian-American grandparents. She suspended a white linen suit and dress in midair to replicate the silhouette of her grandparents. Another that stood out was a giant paper mache tree dedicated to the artists’ many ancestors.
The cherry on the cake was that every sign was both in Spanish and English, allowing even more viewers. Even after the exhibit is passed, anyone interested can still view the exhibit online in a virtual viewing on the DIA’s website.
The exhibit was a big draw for people coming to the museum; many DIA patrons asked employees for directions to the exhibit, most of which being families. Even if someone wasn’t familiar with the symbolism in the ofrendas, the DIA did a great job of explaining the meanings behind many symbols in each ofrenda. Not neglecting the more versed patrons, the ofrendas offered commentary on social and political themes that are prevalent in 2023. The exhibit is a perfect way to dip a toe into Mexican culture and expose oneself to a Latin American tradition surrounding Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

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About the Contributor
Paul Kaminski ’24, Supervising Copy Editor
In a busy and action-packed life with swimming, cross country, track, quiz bowl and DECA, Supervising Copy Editor Paul Kaminski ’24 still finds time to enjoy the little things in life.“I’m a big fan of salsa music, I feel like it includes a lot of rhythmic variation,” Kaminski said. “I think it’s a very nice genre—especially when you can understand Spanish—and I feel it really helped me to get a good score on the AP Spanish test.”Listening to salsa music isn’t something new for Kaminski.“The first time I heard it I was sitting in a little gray and black speckled computer chair,” Kaminski said. “ My dad put on the music video for a song by a singer called Celia Cruz, and I really enjoyed it. I was spinning around in my chair like a maniac.”For Kaminski, the Tower is a great way for him to express his ideas that he wouldn’t normally be able to.“You can experiment with photography, opinion writing, graphic design, and film criticism all in the same class,” Kaminski said.

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