Students organize the Fall Arts Festival unlike anything we’ve seen before.
BY STEPHANIE HUGHES
People pay their respects to their passed loved ones before heading to the streets to watch the parade for Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a once familiar sight to see every autumn.
The Fall Arts Festival, centered around this important holiday in Hispanic culture, is annually sponsored by Durham School of the Arts. This year, the festival will have to adjust to COVID-19 safety measures as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Students on the planning committee work around this as they set up virtual events on Instagram and public displays around campus, which will take place through the end of October and into early November. Despite the challenges being thrown their way, the message the organizers convey is the same, if not having been deepened by the past year.
“[The festival is going to be] so different. There’s not going to be a big event like we normally have but it’s going to be more than last year,” Casey Myers, World Language Department Head and Fall Arts Festival Co-Director, commented,
Art displays will be placed around the DSA campus and virtual events will occur through the committee’s Instagram, @dsa_faf, where updates are also available. Because of the abundance of projects there will be, student organizers divide into small groups so that time can be dedicated to each one.
“We’re working on the community involvement and the ofrenda to put around the school so we can show peoples’ ancestors,” Reagan Hancock, a student organizer, noted.
Even though the pandemic is separating people in their activities, displays such as the community ofrenda are still able to bring people together, in person. Other presentations are also able to do this, virtually, but in unique ways.
“Our group is in charge of the quinceaneras. We decided to have a photo shoot of quinceaneras with their partners and we’re going to do face paint. While we’re getting ready for the photo shoot, we’re gonna interview them,” Liz Zamarripa, senior and student organizer, explained.
The new format of the festival allows for some creative paths to be taken with the projects that wouldn’t have been possible in the past, which still involves the community.
“This year, we’re doing a workshop. The whole idea is to make a craft and send it to elementary school teachers for their kids to learn about the festival and Day of the Dead,”Jennifer Vazquez-Bonilla, junior and student organizer, clarified.
PHOTO CREDIT: STEPHANIE HUGHES
Artwork relevant to Dia de los Muertos and made by visual art classes at Durham School of the Arts is on display in the atrium. Through the incorporation of these meaningful pieces, students learn more about Hispanic culture and holidays to develop a respect for it in daily life.
By sending these crafts out, more attention can be brought to the Hispanic culture, especially in the next generations. For these generations to remember the life and legacy for those who have passed, the social media group behind the Fall Arts Festival has a plan.
“We’ve made a google form about the legacies project on our Instagram, which is where people can submit [the name of] someone who’s passed that’s made an impact… and we post it,” Asher Rosenburg, a student organizer, described.
The message of every craft made and event planned is the same: to spread knowledge about the Hispanic culture and the history behind Dia de los Muertos for others to understand and connect with.
¨The whole reason why we wanted to be part of [the festival and this project] is because it’s part of our culture,” Zamarripa shared.