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Dia de los Muertos comes to life at Portland Building


COURTESY: REGIONAL ARTS & CULTURE COUNCIL - Muralist Rodolfo Serna (right) leads youth from the Boys and Girls Club as they create work for this week's Dia los Muertos installation at the Portland Building.The Portland Building will host a Día de los Muertos art installation this week, celebrating the Latin American holiday with a large, collaborative mural and several traditional altars known as ofrendas.

The Day of the Dead installation, on display from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, was organized by muralist Rodolfo Serna, who is known for large, colorful projects.

Serna worked on the mural with young artists from the Boys & Girls Club, while the ofrendas were designed by Portland’s Mexica Tiahui Aztec dance group.

Ofrendas are often created in tribute to specific people, with photographs, crucifixes, favorite foods and candles, among other things.

Día de los Muertos is a way to commemorate and celebrate ancestors, family and friends that have passed on, respecting death as a natural part of the circle of life rather than something to lament.

The holiday originated in Mexico, but is celebrated in the U.S. and beyond.

"This installation is a tradition we bring from across the border that has been part of the indigenous cultures there for thousands of years," Serna says. "We see this as a day and night of reconnecting with our ancestors, the Mexican people. Every year we set up an alter in a community space where we can all gather and celebrate."

Serna has created over 30 murals in the Portland area with the collaboration of local youth, working with at-risk and homeless youth communities especially in the past 10 years.

The Mexica Tiahui Aztec dance group was founded in Oregon in 1995 to bring the ceremonies and traditions of indigenous Mexican cultures to the Pacific Northwest.

The Regional Arts & Culture Council is presenting the second annual art installation, which will be on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday at the Portland Building, 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave.