Student Artwork Showcases Day of the Dead

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From Nov. 1-22 in the SUU Gerald R. Sherratt Library Main Lobby, students can view SUU’s first annual Day of the Dead Exhibition. The exhibition displays student artwork that was submitted to an art contest organized to commemorate the Day of the Dead celebration.

The event was organized by professors Junice Acosta, Hala Swearingen, Phil Roché and Anne Diekema with SUU Department of Language and Philosophy, the Art and Design Department and students. This is the first annual Day of the Dead art competition.

“Last year we did a big event for the community,” Acosta said. “We had a mariachi group, we had a traditional dance group … We decided to do something a little different this year.”

Acosta also expressed a desire for this art exhibit to become a part of the annual celebration that the school puts on, both because it has encouraged community participation and because of the opportunity it gives students to receive recognition for their artwork.

There are several different parts of the exhibit in the library. There is an altar to honor those from SUU who have passed away, featuring paper flowers, pictures of the dead and traditional food offerings. There is also a collection of books related to the Day of the Dead.

Students were given three weeks to create and submit their artwork for the exhibit. There are over 15 works of art on display. An opening reception was held on Nov. 1, where Best of Show was awarded to Julie Crowell. Olivia Braiker, Emily Mitchell, Michaela Johnson and Sharilyn Shumway each received Awards of Excellence for their artwork.

“Before doing this piece, I knew very little about El Dia de los Muertos,” Shumway said, a senior Fine Arts major from North Logan, who received one of the Awards of Excellence. “Creating art from a culture you are unfamiliar with is exciting because you get to do a lot of research, but also scary because you don’t want to get it wrong. El Dia de los Muertos is a lot more happy and festive than I had previously known.”

The artwork was juried by faculty members of the Art and Design and Languages and Philosophy departments, as well as several professional artists. The exhibit includes 2D and 3D artwork that incorporates traditional Day of the Dead symbols such as sugar skulls, marigolds and butterflies.

“I would love to see this exhibition continued at SUU in the future,” Crowell said, a junior Illustration major from Cedar City. “With just a few weeks notice to put the show together, it was still a success with a good amount of entries. By next year, hopefully, it will have grown into a bigger exhibition that spreads more cultural knowledge.”

Due to the positive reception that the art contest received, those who organized the event plan on including it in future Day of the Dead celebrations.

Story by
Megan Fairbanks