The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center hosted its 10th-annual Dia De Los Muertos festivities.
Audio story by Blayne Turner
Photos by Julia Pinto
Since 2007, the Emma S. Barriento Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) has stood ground right by Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. The MACC is dedicated to the preservation, creation, presentation and promotion of Mexican American cultural arts and heritage.
The center constantly houses galleries that feature local, regional and national Latino/a artists. This fall, Vida y Obra: 5 Years of Art & Activism by Raul Valdez is being displayed in the Sam Z. Coronado Gallery from September 15 through November 25, 2017.
The City of Austin has started celebrating Dia de los Muertos by hosting numerous events throughout the city. The MACC has been culturally decorated with altars and colorful items.
Altars, also known as “ofrendas,” are constructed for the dead in order to place offerings for the deceased. Altars can be either simplistic or elaborate filled with pictures, food, religious statues, candles and flowers.
Fruit and bread are two of the most common foods, and people believe that the deceased consume the “spirit” of the food, so the living can then eat the actual food.
An altar at the MACC featuring multiple pictures of those passed to honor them on the sacred holiday of Dia de los Muertos, along with decorated sugar skulls. The altar commemorates the memory and the souls of people.
An artpiece created by a local Austin artist is displayed at the MACC. The painting features many local sayings and areas the emphasize the Latino community of Austin.
Piñatas hang under a glass ceiling at the MACC decoratively representing skeletons and Dia de Los Muertos.
An altar honors the fallen victims of Hurricane Maria, a terrible storm that deeply affected Puerto Rico back in September 2017.
A decorative piece built together by the community of Austin is displayed at the MACC. The colorful shape represents the unity of community with positive messages written all over it.
Photo Gallery by John Hernandez
A pile of piñatas awaiting their demise at the hands of children attending the Día De Los Muertos event at the MACC. Part of the Austin skyline looms in the background.
J Muzacz mentors Caminos “caminantes,” Latinx teenagers from 15 to 18 years of age that are interested in creative arts. The Caminos program offers them a paid internship to develop that interest. One of his charges, Adrian Muniz, asked him for help facilitate live painting during the MACC Día De Los Muertos event. A passerby noted their use of brushes, but Muzacz tells his students, “You don’t have to be all spray. Use whatever gets the job done.”
Adrian Muniz, one of the caminantes and a junior at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Austin, said that Día De Los Muertos is one of his favorite holidays. He loves the vibrant colors and attention-grabbing nature of the artform and medium he works with. He has been painting for a couple of months and worked with Muzacz on a mural located at the front of the MACC.
David Rios, a host, producer and multimedia director for Univision, emceed the Día De Los Muertos Event. He studied mass communication at Texas State University according to his LinkedIn profile.
Mariachi Corbetas from Austin performs at Día De Los Muertos. The 2017 event was held in honor of the group’s former members, Anthony Ortiz Jr., an accordion prodigy who died after a 10-month fight with cancer according to the Austin American-Statesman. Ortiz Jr. played in the Mariachi Corbetas with his father and grandfather.
Lauren Sears and Eric Cortez dance and embrace during one of the conjunto music performances. They have come to this event every year since it was started 10 years ago. Cortez was especially appreciative of the mission and meaning of the MACC in preserving Hispanic culture. He pointed out that the controversial development of the surrounding Rainey district, once a residential neighborhood now turned into a destination for drinking and tourism, stops at the MACC.
Dancers from Ballet Folkloríco Dance Co. perform in front of the main stage at the Día De Los Muertos event at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) in Austin, Texas, Oct. 21.
Pete Luera admires his 2002 Roush Mustang. According to Luera, only 28 out of 10,000 were made in the color. He keeps the car in his garage and only takes out for special occasions like the Día De Los Muertos event at the MACC. He has made quite a few modifications to the car, like the LED lighting in the wheels and a new video and sound system.
Joseph Piedra works on printing shirts for the Día De Los Muertos event at the MACC. Piedra estimated that he printed 50 shirts in one hour of being at the event. His wife owns an online screen printing business, Old School Nation, which incorporated live screen printing during the past two years.
Bella Mae, one of the many children at the Día De Los Muertos event, patiently gets her face painted.
Adrienne Sanchez looking over the festival grounds at a survey table. She volunteered for the event last year, but she now works for the MACC. Sanchez works in event planning and marketing for the MACC. While the Día De Los Muertos event happens once per year, the altars will remain there longer.
A part of the altar for Emma S. Barrientos, the namesake of the Mexican American Cultural Center. The MACC was named after the late Barrientos in 2010 due to her work in the community, politics and the arts as the wife of former Texas State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos. Día De Los Muertos altars feature tokens of a person’s life.
Javier Jara of Los Bohemios Perdidos performs in the display room of the Día De Los Muertos altars.