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Day of the Dead Altar Making Workshop

A recent professional development workshop for K–12 educators offered by the Latin American Institute.

  • Group picture of workshop participants with their altar.

  • Candles: To welcome the Spirits. Photo of the deceased: A framed photo of the dead person to whom the altar is dedicated. Marigolds: These yellow-orange flowers, also called cempasúchitl, symbolize death. Their strong fragrance also help lead the dead back to their altars. Incense: A dried aromatic resin from a tree. The scent is also said to guide the spirits back to their altars.

  • Ofelia Esparza teaching about the Day of the Dead and Altar Making.

  • Participants during the Day of the Dead Altar Making workshop

  • Martha Lira working on her altar.

  • Day of the Dead mini altar.

  • Papel Picado is a folk art of cutting tissue paper that is traditionally used to adorn altars or hung for festive events.

  • Participants learning how to make Day of the Dead paper cutting with Margaret Sosa.

  • Teachers working on their mini altars.

  • Learning about papel picado.

  • Maria-Georgina Salazar (left) and Nancy Monica Navarro (right) putting together their papel picado designs.

  • Kriztian Luna working on paper cutting patterns.

  • The Altars.

The UCLA Latin American Institute (LAI), in collaboration with nonprofit Avenue 50 Studio offered a Day of Dead Altar Making Workshop for K-12 educators.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is one of Latin America’s most unique traditional celebrations, in which people remember and honor the memory of ancestors, family members and friends. Traditionally celebrated on November 1st and 2nd.

The five-hour workshop was led by master artists: Ofelia Esparza and Margaret Sosa.
All participants created a Día de los Muertos Altar and learned about Day of the Dead papel picado techniques. 

*All photos by Carla Guerrero/ UCLA-Latin American Institute.