Lowriders: 8th Annual Día de los Muertos Festival Exhibit

November 1, 2007–January 11, 2008
Opening Reception: November 1, 2007, 5-7pm


For the past eight years, the ASU Museum of Anthropology has hosted an annual Día de Los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) Festival Exhibit. This year’s exhibit will be themed around lowriders. As icons of Mexican American culture, lowriders – automobiles engineered to ride close to the ground – have increasingly become part of the contemporary visual landscape that characterizes Chicano communities. Artists are encouraged to merge formal elements, imagery and literally ‘parts’ of these popular icons with traditional Día de los Muertos offerings, creating highly inventive altarpieces that reflect a broad array of individual styles, personal meanings and socially shared concerns.

Lowriders will bring together Chicana/o artists, people from the community and students in the creation of highly inventive and elaborate altarpieces. The subject-matter and design of each altar is entirely the choice of its creator, though artists are urged to address contemporary social issues impacting many Valley communities, like automobile and gang related deaths. Traditional altars will also be welcomed.

The 8th Annual Día de los Muertos Festival Exhibit is a joint collaboration between the ASU Museum of Anthropology, the Calaca Cultural Center, Arizona Historical Society at Papago Park, Xico, Inc., Vision Gallery, Chandler Cultural Foundation, Tohono Chul Park, Mesa Arts Center and the community.

lecture series

November 8, 2007, 5 p.m., Social Science Building Room 229
“Trans-America: Lowriders and the Politics of ‘Deviant’ Transportation and Car Transformations in America”
William Calvo, Ph.D. Candidate, Design, ASU, Ph.D. Candidate, Chicano Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

November 26, 2007, 5 p.m., Anthropology Building, Room 340
“Descansos: Marking Passages”
Barbara Jaquay, Ph.D., Arizona Humanities Council

exhibition background

Día de los Muertos at the ASU Museum of Anthropology

"This is the third year of my participation in the Museum of Anthropology Días de los Muertos exhibit. It is with great pleasure and pride that I can remain connected to the cultural anthropological side of my artwork."
– Deborah Silvis

Hosting the Día de los Muertos Festival Exhibit is a tradition for the ASU Museum of Anthropology. From modest beginnings in 1999 to its present form in "Lowriders," this exhibit is an expression of not only the Valley’s growing Chicano, Latino and Mexican-American heritage, but also Arizona State University’s stake in sharing that heritage with others. Each year we honor the spirit of this exhibit’s beginnings by inviting students, artists and community members into the museum and the university to install altars that range from highly personal, emotive shrines to altars with poignant political and social messages. Displayed amidst the altars is artwork from artists in Arizona, New Mexico and California.

This exhibit exemplifies the challenges and rewards of our commitment to building local community relationships. Many of the participants in this exhibit install altars here year after year. This year we also welcome altars from high school and junior high students, ASU undergraduate and graduate students and local organizations. This exhibit is not only about the ritual and celebration of Day of the Dead, it symbolizes the museum’s responsibility to continue to share the vibrant ways which Chicano cultural traditions are practiced. This project also involves how this art reflects on social changes taking place in the Phoenix Valley.

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Featured image: "Custom Interior" by Arius Elvikis