La ofrenda para los olvidados / The Altar for The Forgotten
Presented in collaboration with The Consulate of Mexico in Oklahoma City and Latino Community Development Agency
Oct. 27-Nov. 20
La ofrenda para los olvidados / The Altar for The Forgotten, a sculptural installation created by Oklahoma City-based Chicano artist Narciso Argüelles, acted as a celebratory artwork for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The artist blended techniques borrowed from folk art and traditional ofrendas to create this powerful work, celebrating the lives of migrants who perished on their journey from Mexico to the United States.
The tradition, taking place on Nov. 1 and 2, dates back over 3,000 years to rituals honoring and respecting the dead in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, with the Aztec, Toltec and other Nahuatl people. Death, in this pre-Hispanic cultural context, is viewed as an integral part of life rather than a somber moment for mourning. As a way to celebrate the passing of loved ones, family members and community create altars in which food, flowers, drinks and other intentional and personal offerings are left for those who have died. This tradition allows those in the living world to connect with the deceased and keep them present.
An additional signature component to an ofrenda was marigolds, for it is said the fragrance leads souls from their burial place to their family homes and altars. Among other significant and culturally relevant details, Argüelles’ work included an arch of fresh glowing marigolds.
For the artist, La ofrenda para los olvidados offered an opportunity to memorialize those who have passed away, as well as a contemporary reminder of the courage and determination of immigrants who strive to seek better opportunities in new lands, moving from Mexico to the United States, honoring their contributions to new communities and societies.