This year, one of my Ceramics classes collaborated with the Spanish class in studying and celebrating Día de los muertos. This took place over several weeks with 45 students in multiple settings.
Once students learned about this ancient cultural tradition, they started making things to prepare for November 1st, the first day of Día de los muertos. From a sugar mixture, students used molds to create their calavera blank.
The skulls dried over night and then were decorated with icing, sprinkles, glitter, etc...
The culminating project would be a mini ofrenda where students could honor and remember someone who has passed away. To help decorate these spaces, students practiced making papel picado, paper flowers, and calavera prints.
The classroom was transformed for Day of the Dead, with tablecloths, marigolds and many stories and memories of loved ones who have passed.
Students shared their project with their table and walked around to view others' projects.
We also shared pan de muerto the traditional food item used for Day of the dead.
Since this class was at the beginning of the day, I left the decorations up so I could share information about this tradition with all my students. Some classes used the bouquets to draw a still life.
Another class used a video from Youtube to draw realistic skulls.
Several days before this event, a couple classes did a quick printmaking activity to create flowers for these student-painted calaveras.
Though the room was covered in skulls, the images were happy and colorful. The idea of Día de los muertos is to celebrate those who have passed away. I also shared the political message behind Posada's La Catrina, which is also a common symbol of Day of the dead.
This celebration was mostly dissected by the Ceramics class, so I wanted them to also consider connections between Día de los muertos and ceramics. A few students started working on their own interpretation of La Catrina, some created clay marigolds... students came up with several connections. These are still in progress, we've had to pause them several times for various systemic situations.