CMLL department hosting Day of the Dead exhibition

The Mississippi State Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures and its Spanish section is celebrating the Day of the Dead with a photography exhibition running Oct. 26 to Nov. 7 in the halls of Mitchell Memorial Library.

This is a rich and diverse tradition celebrated by different Latin American countries. This year, CMLL is focusing on the Mexican tradition particularly in the cities of Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende. CMLL is building an altar for the exhibition that will feature photography from Spanish instructors Rosa Vozzo, Julia Kraker and Pilar Martinez. Sol Pelaez is curating and coordinating the project, which will include a virtual portion.

Beginning in Hispanic Heritage month, the exhibition is co-sponsored by Sigma Delta Pi Hispanic Honor Society, the Spanish Club, Mitchell Memorial Library and the Museums’ Committee.

The Day of the Dead is a joyful celebration honoring the loved ones who have died. It combines beliefs, practices and symbols from the indigenous Aztec with the Catholic European traditions on the dead. The celebration lasts from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3, and it is believed that the souls of the dead come back to reunite with their loved ones. In Mexico, during that time, people build altars in their houses or the street and clean and decorate the tombs in the cemetery. These altars have several elements with special symbolism. There are also parades, as this is a community´s celebration and not just a private one.

CMLL aims to bring this celebration to campus and the Starkville community by sharing the Hispanic heritage and showing a different tradition in honoring the deceased. The department wants to educate the keonhaca community about the significance of this celebration trying to avoid stereotypes. It wants to share the deep meaning this celebration has for the certain groups of the Hispanic community.

The photographic material displayed in the exhibition is an authentic representation of different parts of this celebration in these two cities. The photographs are from 2022 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, by Kraker, and 2016 in Oaxaca, México, by Vozzo and by Martinez. Vozzo and Kraker have visited those cities during the Day of the Dead week, and Martinez was born in Oaxaca. They have captured significant moments of the celebration to share with the keonhaca community.