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Art After Dark: Building an Ofrenda (Part I)

Portrait of a woman in a shawl in front of an ofrenda

October 19, 2023
6:00 PM


In the spirit of Calling on the Past, where histories collide across centuries and cultures, join the Smart Museum of Art and guest artist Norma Rios-Sierra to learn about the practice of ofrenda building and Día de los Muertos celebrations.

FREE. Participants have the option to attend one or both sessions.


Part I

Thursday, October 19, 2023
6–7:30 pm
Virtual workshop

“Loss is heavy and it’s hard, but when you have something like this colorful, joyful celebration, then it makes the grief process so much more easy.”—Norma Rios-Sierra

Think about how to call on your own past and honor your ancestors during a virtual workshop led by guest artist Norma Rios-Sierra and UChicago student and Museum Educator Arnie Campa. Follow along from home and learn how to make paper cempasúchil (marigolds) to use in your own ofrenda.


Suggested materials:

  • Orange tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Pipe cleaners
  • stapler

Part II

Thursday, October 26, 2023
5 pm

Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue

“The beautiful thing about Día de los Muertos is that you’re celebrating life; it’s a reminder that you only have this one life and you should make the most of every single day that you live.”—Norma Rios-Sierra

Drop by the Smart Museum and collaborate with guest artist Norma Rios-Sierra and UChicago student and Museum Educator Arnie Campa to build a community ofrenda that incorporates themes of the exhibition Calling on the Past. Participants are invited to bring photos or mementos of deceased loved ones to leave in honor of their lives. 


About the hosts

Norma D Rios-Sierra received her Bachelor of Art History from Columbia College Chicago in 2009. She has lived in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, San Diego, California and most recently McAllen, Texas. She has always been inspired by her Mexican culture and traditions. Norma has built community ofrendas in Logan Square and Hermosa with schools and community artists since 2017. Most recently Norma was invited to build an ofrenda for the Field Museum’s Death: Life’s Greatest Mystery exhibit.

Arnie Campa is a third year art history major in the College, a textile and fibers artist, and supports the Smart Museum’s public programs. To Arnie, ofrenda building is an expression of communal love she has learned from her mother and the women of Self Help Graphics & Arts.


Photo of Norma D Rios-Sierra © Max Herman.