This week the University of Louisville is celebrating the Day of the Dead, the Hispanic holiday that combines indigenous and Catholic traditions. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.
The university has partnered with cultural groups throughout the metropolitan area to create altars, as many Hispanics do on Nov. 1 to remember deceased loved ones.
U of L assistant professor of fine art Mary Carothers honor those who have died coming to this country for refuge on an outside wall of the 21C Museum Hotel. Carothers says it was inspired by The Devil’s Highway, a book assigned to U of L many classes this year about 26 men who tried to cross the Mexican and U.S. border in 2001. The 14 who survived are known as the Yuma 14.
“Those are marigolds and the hands are cast from immigrants now living in the United States who have moved here,” she says, “and many of them have some really interesting stories.”
These elements are among thousands of small monarch butterflies made of paper and which the class designed. The butterflies, which are affixed to the wall, have many different designs. The hands on the wall were made with the participation of 14 immigrants living in Louisville and from countries as varied as Germany, Cuba and Afghanistan.
Carothers says, like traditional altars, they arranged elements of the piece on three levels to represent the earth, the sky and the air in between.
“We have the marigolds on the ground level,” she says. “The hands that are in between and the monarch butterflies symbolizing a metamorphosis to heaven.”
The university has partnered with nine cultural groups throughout the area on this project, including the Archdiocese of Louisville, the Frazier International History Museum, the Louisville Science Center, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and the Muhammad Ali Center.