The Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos) exhibit was very much alive at the New Rochelle High School Thursday.
Couples, families and students from the community lingered around the hallways to admire the colorful Calaveras and Diablitos art made by the students of the high school. Refreshments were served and crafts took place in the cafeteria, where children from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade got to color their very own candy skulls and enjoy authentic Mexican food.
With the help of over 100 students and lots of publicity, the high school had a successful turnout for the first time the celebration was held in a location other than the New Rochelle Public Library. Even with the disturbance of Hurricane Sandy and subsequent power outages, students and teachers made sure that this event would come back into the public eye of New Rochelle. Although the students were different ethnicities, the talent displayed by the artwork brought it all together.
Students such as seniors Thomas Ford and Liam O’Leary said they made a huge commitment to this event. After spending a month on their piece for the exhibit, they had the honor to make a large pyramid for other art pieces to be displayed.
“Our inspiration to this piece was from the Aztec temples, and it is made out of wood, insulation and lots of foam,” said O’Leary. “It was a lot of fun to make.”
Marlene Tutera, a member of the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence board of directors and president of the Museum of Arts & Culture spoke of the turnout for the Hispanic population within the New Rochelle community.
“I think that it is a timely exhibit for the community because it really does help us reach out to a segment of the population,” said Tutera. “I think that once you establish that relationship, not is it only important to relate things to their culture, but then you have an opportunity to reach out and invite them to the other cultural events.”
Later during the event, there were dance performances by Atl-Tlachinolli and the Ballet Folkorico Mexicano de Nueva York, the first of which was an Aztec ceremony, in which dancers were dressed in feathered headpieces and had ink drawings on their bodies.
The dancers completed their tribal performance in front of the altar, offering blessings to their ancestors who have passed away. The dances were completed in the hallway and ended in the Linda Kelly Theater.
"Day of the Dead" was the final event of the New Rochelle Public Library's Big Read, the community-wide reading of Sun, Stone and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories. The Big Read, which as made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, began with a Fiesta Grande for Mexican Independence Day and continued with thousands of New Rochelle adults and young adults reading and discussing the short stories.