Dia de los Muertos 2017

Collaborating to Create

Community. Connection. Conversation. Celebration.

We all fear death,

but let us not be haunted by it.

Death is a natural result of living.


In creating an altar and talking to one another, we begin a process that will ultimately honor the abiding spirit of Life.

A collaborative exploration of how death
nforms and inspires the way we live

through conversation and the expressive arts

Dia de los Muertos

Community Celebration

A Gathering with Food, Drink, Conversation & the Expressive Arts

Inspired by Ashland, Oregon’s sister city, Guanajuato, Mexico’s
famous traditional celebration of life and death

Held Nov 2nd + 3rd, 2017, 4 to 9 pm, Ashland, Oregon

Expressive Arts:

Ashland's Briscoe ArtWing, 
dedicated to exploring the creative process in community, invited community members to create
Altars of Remembrance

 to honor losses and renew the spirit of community.

Conversations about Life+Death:

Ashland Death Café facilitators
gathered to hold small group conversations to explore
how death can inform and inspire the way we live.

At Death Cafés, people come together in a relaxed and safe setting to
discuss death, 
drink tea and eat delicious sweets & cake.

ADC is a volunteer-run, community-based organization committed to

regularly providing opportunities to

support open conversation about death, dying and how to make the most out of life.

Impacts of Bearing Witness to Loss and Death:

We were all, attendees, artists and facilitators alike, touched
by the willingness and sincerity of all who participated in this event to be transparent and honest in a group of mostly strangers.

Over and over we heard how refreshing it is to be welcomed
and deeply heard when everyone spoke of their losses, experiences and concerns.

Community members were invited to create Altars of Remembrance.

As with life, these installations were temporary, ephemeral and fleeting…

These altars are memorialized below as


Curated Altars of Remembrance with artist messages to the beyond...

Artists were asked, "Who or what inspired the creation of your Altar?" and 
"How did the creation of the Altar influence your relationship to life and living, death and dying?" 

In the spirit of the evening! Laurel Miller - one of the Ashland Death Café facilitators at this event.

The Skeleton Bride


I think of this altar like a reliquary in an old Italian church. 

The bride, the red shoes, and the dance -- all representing  the human condition.

Hope and idealism -- is the bride, the red shoes, and the dance. All we do here on earth -- it is all like a dance and sort of timeless.

-- Carol Saturensky-Young


Frida Kahlo & Childhood Memories


This altar is for Frida Kahlo and childhood memories that remind us of so much Love!


I honor & respect both Life and Death. Life and Death are two sides of the same door in one’s journey. We are all part of Nature, and nature is in us and all around us. Life’s full of moments of death as nature finishes a cycle and moves into another. As in Spring when all of Nature comes to Life and blossoms in Summer then begins the cycle of Fall and the cold of winter when all feel the chill of Death.


My altar is dedicated to a Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo who lived most of her life in agony from an accident when she was 16. She faced Death many times yet kept her spirit alive with Love for art, family and friends.


The altar also honors all the childhood memories that are lost or gone as a person moves into different stages of their Life until Death…

-- Samar Dawisha


This altar is created in celebration of my beloved son Karl… giving me the opportunity to share his beautiful being with others.


My Son Karl … bubbly as the root beer he loved

Everyone grieves differently. As a mother, I choose to celebrate my son any chance I get. Not a day goes by I don’t think of him in some way. I already have many small versions of these altars in my home. I have created these since the very beginning of my great loss of my son. I also have and will continue to reproduce some of his artwork starting from pre-school and on. These will be everything from painted canvases to wearable art and anything in between as the inspiration goes. I believe there is no death. The spirit lives on and I also believe that with our feelings and emotions our loved ones can be around us. If you ask yourself the question “As deep and profound of LOVE I have for those who have passed … how could it ever be that we will not meet again?”


-- Shelley Ladue


All these people have helped to make us who we are. My grandma was a big part of my childhood.


We have many stories to share about her, so having her pictures gives us more dimension.


In helping me with this altar, my husband felt like he became better acquainted with Esther (my grandma).

-- Carol  Saturensky-Young + Jim Young


-- Jadene Mayla

In honor of my mother Joyce, who died in 2010 and made the ceramic figures as "crones of history" who broke the warhead and chanted down the military –financial—industrial complex.

-- Joyce + Jeff + Ivo Westergaard

 ~ Querida Mamasita ~

I took the opportunity to celebrate your long life in a public way so others may know you better.


I miss you so much and cried a lot while I made it [this altar]. I also remembered that you would have teased me back into good humor and told me to buck up and enjoy life.

Besitos y Abrazos fuentes,

I have spent my year of grief exploring the way to bring the feelings up so I can experience them and the sort of put them away. I want to continue living with the same spirit pf adventure and humor even though my mother is now gone from my life and I miss her terribly. I do feel more alone in the world without her and I guess somehow sharing those feelings and letting people in on how fantastic she was as a person helps me feel less alone with my grief at her death and therefore less alone in life.

-- Mabrie Ormes


This altar is dedicated to all the activists who have occupied and made a difference in the world.

            -- Jeff + Ivo Westergaard

The Long Goodbye

This was a very emotional experience for me because

it helped put some of my feelings to rest.


There was something about the act of creating the altar that made me feel like I wanted a ceremony for my family.


Looking at all these pictures from the past and our childhood helped me to celebrate their lives,

and brings me closer to acceptance.


I felt inspired to bring in fresh flowers for the altars

as part of the community experience.

-- Marilee Jenkinson

This Altar of Remembrance is dedicated to our pets and is a collaboration.

To learn more about upcoming events, please visit the websites of our collaborating organizations:
This page was developed + curated by: