Winners of the costume contest at
LA Day of The Dead 2014: Jesus Pineda and Melanie Gutierrez!
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican celebration that is a time when families celebrate, and remember their deceased loved ones past life. This is a day when the living may welcome back the spirits of their loved ones for another day together.

For the past 15 years, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery has been Los Angeles' own Día de los Muertos celebration for thousands of people. There are over 100 altars on display each year throughout the cemetery. This year, one of which, was created by a group of Otis students honoring American Writers such as Hunter Thompson, Shel Silverstein, and Ray Bradbury.
Our class' completed altar

This is a project that the Modern Mysticism and the Afterlife class, taught by the one and only, Heather Joseph-Witham, had been working on all semester and finally showcased directly in front of the Otis obelisk (the memorial of Harrison Gray Otis, the original Otis Owl, for his wife). The event lasted all day from noon until midnight.

The opening procession of the festival inspired by the theme of
The Shamanic Visions of the Huichol
Gods Eyes being carried throughout the procession
After what seemed like the longest debate over who we should honor with our altar, our class finally came to a decision. We decided to do a Huichol themed altar that honors iconic American writers. I am very happy that Shel Silverstein is one of the writers we are honoring in this three part series. Zoe Lin, Matthew Bae and I decided for the main part of our altar we were going to build a tree like in Shel's most famous piece of writing itself, "The Giving Tree". I was very happy with the result of the tree.
The Opening Altar for the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
I was honestly a little worried it wouldn't look like a cohesive altar with all the different writers, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how well everything started to come together. Please enjoy the rest of these photos and feel free to join us next year for this one of a kind event!

An altar for Johnny Ramone of The Ramones

Here are some of the other altars:

The Otis Altar at Night
I hope you've enjoyed these photos. Heather Joseph-Witham, our teacher has been teaching this class for years and has been doing the festival ever since. Heather has helped open our eyes to the other worlds and the afterlife. For anyone that might be interested in taking a class they don't dread walking into every day, this is definitely the one to sign up for. The day was filled with cultural enrichment, creativity, teamwork, music, great food, and so much more. We thank those of you who came to visit us and we hope to see you all next year!

- Brittany -


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