UTEP celebrates Day of the Dead with Fun, Films, Contests, Altars

The University of Texas at El Paso will serve up some cultural goodies starting Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, to help the community celebrate Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos 2015 on campus. Day of the Dead is celebrated in many European and Latin American countries on Nov. 1-2 to honor the spirits of deceased family members.

Interest in the tradition continues to grow in the southwestern United States. Here are a few highlights of what is scheduled live and on various virtual platforms.

There will be a Calaveras (decorated skulls) costume contest, music, free refreshments and more from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, on the Centennial Museum lawn. The musical group Ceiba will perform and a life-sized Mojiganga puppet will be available for photo ops. One of the sponsors is UTEP’s Academic Technologies.

Four of the top short films produced by students in UTEP’s Entering Student Program will be screened from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, through Saturday, Oct. 31, in the lobby of the Centennial Museum. The films delve into Latino culture and are tied to the Day of the Dead.

Two feature films that use Day of the Dead as part of their plot will be screened for free as part of the Día de los Muertos Film Festival in the Blumberg Auditorium on the first floor of the University Library. “Macario,” a 1961 Academy Award-nominated foreign language fantasy/drama will be shown at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, and “Under the Volcano,” a drama directed by John Huston and starring Albert Finney, will air at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2.

Members of the JUNTOS Art Association, whose art is on display in “Icons and Symbols of the Borderland” in the Centennial Museum, will talk about how their art is tied to Day of the Dead during a presentation at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, in the museum’s theater. The event is sponsored by the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.

tumblr_nebi3tJxfl1rj3kt5o1_1280The annual Meso Ball Game will begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday, October 30th, in the virtual Ballcourt of the Sun. The game, a combination of soccer and basketball, will be played by avatars and broadcast on UTEP’s YouTube channel.

The UTEP team is led by Eduardo Barrera, Ph.D., associate professor of communication. Its opponent will be students from Michigan State University. One of the sponsors is the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Several colorful and unique altars will be on display starting Wednesday, Oct. 28, in the Centennial Museum, Liberal Arts Building and the University Library. These altars will recognize individuals who have impacted the region and the culture such as the late Maceo Dailey, Ph.D., former director of UTEP’s African-American Studies program who died Oct. 11, 2015.

Other altars will honor Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, Tejano music artist Selena, the actor Cantinflas, and former UTEP Hall of Fame basketball coach Don Haskins. The altars, some of which were erected as part of UTEP’s International Culture Festival, will be taken down as early as Tuesday, Nov. 3, while others will stay up through Friday, Nov. 6, 2015.