UW–Madison alumnus Roberto Torres Mata is one of the organizers of the 2021 Día de los Muertos Community Altar Project on display at the Overture Center for the Arts through Sunday, Nov. 14.
Torres Mata has been involved with the Community Altar Project since last year, when he was a student in the School of Education’s Art Department. Torres Mata earned both his MA and MFA at UW–Madison, specializing in printmaking. He completed his MFA in 2021.
Carolyn Kallenborn, an associate professor in UW–Madison’s School of Human Ecology, started the Community Altar Project in 2014 to help “build bridges between the individual and the community, life and death, sorrow and celebration.”
The display at Overture features handmade shadow box altars made in memory of loved ones. In an article about the project in Madison365, Torres Mata explains the significance Día de los Muertos: “(It) is a remembrance of those people that you loved who passed away and they come back on that particular night to share that moment of love and family,” he says.
“It’s a very important theme about family and we decorate, we offer food, we drink, and we honor this person. So there’s no sadness or grief. It’s more a celebration of the person’s life and what they’ve accomplished and what they’ve offered and what they’ve given to the next generation. It’s a way to honor that,” he adds.
Torres Mata notes the Community Altar Project provides an opportunity to the Madison community “to get involved and participate” in Día de Los Muertos.
Beyond the exhibit, a story sharing and gallery viewing will take place Monday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m., in the Oveture Center’s Rotunda Gallery, and a Remembrance and Celebration reception will take place Friday, Nov. 12, from 5-9 p.m., at Garver Feed Mill.
“This will be projected images of altar boxes onto the wall by the entrance at the Garver Feed Mill. People are submitting Day of the Dead photos, videos, artwork on the face of the building,” Torres Mata explains.
Learn more about this year’s Community Altar Project display at overture.org.