Students of the course explore the cultural and psychological themes of the customs of mourning and remembrance and examine the commodification and commercialization of tradition. They worked alongside the ITC exhibition coordinator Cristina Winston, specialist in museum education and awareness Kirstin cutts and web developer Jenny gonzalez on the experiential learning project.
“The course and the project work together to give students the opportunity to gain hands-on training in developing cultural experiences for audiences,” Cutts said. “They do the research, they design the exhibit, and they prepare a promotion plan so that the work can be shared not only with their peers but with audiences across the state and country.”
The exhibit includes research into the history, food, and many associated traditions that make up the Day of the Dead celebrations.
“It was an opportunity for us to respect and learn more about cultures different from ours,” said Alexis ho, a second year biology student. “In the United States there is a large population celebrating the Day of the Dead – perhaps even more so in our own city – and some of us have never observed this holiday before.”
The exhibition will be posted on the museum’s website at the end of October, just before the time when the holiday is traditionally celebrated between November 1 and 2.
The project marks the second year in a row that students have built a virtual exhibit in collaboration with staff from the Institute of Texan Cultures. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a need to move the project online. In previous years, students in the class built a ofrenda—A traditional altar honoring deceased family members — at the museum.
This year, as some courses reverted to in-person instruction in the middle of the semester, students built an altar in the Honors Student Lounge on UTSA’s main campus. The group will host an opening reception and invite the UTSA community to visit and contribute from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 27.
“We invite students and members of the UTSA community to stop by and add items to remember loved ones,” Lozano said. “We built the ofrenda as a way to share our love of this beautiful celebration with our UTSA family. There will be interactive activities for guests to take with them or leave on the ofrenda. “