“Día de los Muertos 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,” says artist Roberto Torres Mata [MFA ’21]. “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.”

Torres Mata is one of the organizers of the 2021 Día de los Muertos Community Altar Project that debuted on Thursday at the Overture Center of the Arts and will be on display until Sunday, Nov. 14. The display features handmade shadow box altars made in memory of loved ones that have been created by members of the Madison-area community and contributed to the 2021 Community Altar Project.

“We are working together to provide this opportunity to the community of Madison to get involved and participate in this event related to El Dia de Los Muertos,” says Torres Mata, a recent UW-Madison Master of Fine Arts (MFA) graduate with a specialization in printmaking. “And having people work on the altars and decorate them and incorporating this special moment of their loved ones and sharing it with everybody in Madison at Overture.

“It’s a unique opportunity working with [Overture Center Gallery Manager] Beth [Racette] to have these more than 80 boxes displayed at the entrance of Overture Center to showcase and memorialize the people who have passed away as the tradition in Mexico does – Dia de Los Muertos,” Torres Mata adds.