Dead come to life

Emily Cope

Standing Rock Cultral Arts on North Water Street features artwork celebrating the Day of the Dead. On the Mexican holiday, people pay homage to and remember the dead, but it is a festive, rather than morbid time. LESLEY KATZENMEYER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

Everything was arranged to welcome the dead. Belly dancers performed to the harmonious mixture of drums and sitar music. A spread of food was laid out and flickering candles decorated an altar. Skeleton paintings and masks hung on the walls.

Celebrating the dead with a party may seem odd in some countries. However, on the Mexican holiday El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, people celebrate by welcoming their dead loved ones back into their home with food, flowers and gifts.

In honor of this occasion, Standing Rock Cultural Arts in downtown Kent is holding its fourth annual Dia De Los Muertos exhibit. The show’s opening reception Saturday night emulated Mexican tradition with festive music, dancing and food. The exhibit features six artists and includes paintings, masks, puppets and jewelry boxes.

Vince Packard, artist and curator of the exhibit, said the show has evolved through the years.

“The first year the show was basically me and my ex-girlfriend,” he said. “The next year I adopted the Day of the Dead theme to add another layer of interest to the show. And this year is actually the first year I limited it to local artists except for Lynn Dewart.”

VIDEO: Day of the Dead

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Dewart is from San Diego and the other artists are from the Akron/Kent area. Packard said the show lets each artist express what El Dia de los Muertos means to him or her. It also offers viewers a different perspective.

“Ohio is far from the border,” Packard said. “But the Hispanic culture is a growing influence. It’s a beautiful culture with great colors and it has my full respect. Mexicans offer us a different angle to look at the season.”

Carmel Clavin, a belly dancer and sophomore international relations major, said the exhibit was an experience.

“I like the event because instead of just looking at art, you experience something,” Clavin said. “To me you can’t just watch dance — you experience it. And even the art itself isn’t just to look at. The masks are meant to be worn and the jewelry box is meant to be heard.”

Senior biology major Jessica Karrer, a belly dancer at the exhibit, said it was great to be around other artists and share her art form with others.

“It was an amazing event,” Karrer said. “It’s positive any time you get to experience new culture or art. It’s important also that so many (of these shows) are close to campus.”

Dia de los Muertos will be on display through November 18. Standing Rock Cultural Arts is open every Thursday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Contact College of the Arts reporter Emily Cope at [email protected].