LEWISTON — L/A Arts is presenting its second year of a visual arts celebration called Dia de los Muertos, with artwork of students that commemorates people close to them who they have lost in their lives. It will take place Friday, Nov. 2, at the Bates Mill Atrium.

During October, L/A Arts began residencies in Spanish classes at Lewiston Middle and High School. Students studied the cultural history behind the day, visual arts practices and applied it to a personal piece they created complete with photographic images, decorative items and thematic connections to the person they honored. Natasha Mayers instructed the students.

The Dia celebration features artwork, shrines and installations of more than 150 students. There will be refreshments.

Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is a celebration practiced in Mexico and in cultures throughout the world. It focuses on gatherings of people to remember and celebrate those friends and family members who have died.

In some places people make skull masks, called calacas, to wear in parades. Skulls, symbols of death, are cast in sugar. In rural areas, families go to the cemetery, decorate graves with marigolds and candles and eat the favorite foods of those passed on. Families also build altars in homes and on the street, adorning them with photos, flowers, candles and favorite foods.

This visual arts project asks student to take their understanding of the cultural holiday and the Spanish language into personal creative work which develops their imaginations, applies their learning creatively and heals them through the celebration of the lives of those they have lost.

Mayers’ work marries art and community. She studied sculpture but expected to teach high school social studies when she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1967. After serving in the Peace Corps in Nigeria, she took a teaching job in Maine and began to study painting.

Since 1975, Mayers has supervised the painting of over 500 murals as a touring artist with the Maine Commission for the Arts. In 2000, she supervised the painting of the Auburn Great Wall community mural, a partnership between the city of Auburn and L/A Arts.

Find out about upcoming events, project and initiatives in which L/A Arts is  involved, online at www.laarts.org.

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