PORT ANGELES — With help from people of all ages, a new public art installation is about to take shape at The Wharf mall, 115 E. Railroad Ave.
It’s an ofrenda, a display of love and remembrance around El Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. The holiday, celebrated throughout Mexico and in many parts of the United States, has as one of its symbols a bright-yellow marigold.
The Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts (JFFA) and the North Olympic Library System (NOLS) are offering free marigold-making kits through this week. The kits contain tissue paper in three shades of yellow, orange and gold, green pipe-cleaners for stems and directions for making 3-D marigolds.
The kits are available until they run out during curbside hours at NOLS locations:
• The Port Angeles Library, 2210 N. Peabody St.;
• The Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave.;
• The Forks Library, 171 S. Forks Ave.;
• The Clallam Bay Library, 16990 state Highway 112.
Finished paper flowers can be then be dropped off in the art-return receptacle outside the JFFA office inside the Chase Bank lobby at Front and Laurel streets.
The deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesday. More information can be found at JFFA.org.
“We were delighted when NOLS reached out to ask if we would like to partner with them to put together a community Dia de los Muertos celebration,” said Kayla Oakes, JFFA executive director.
“In fact, in 2017, JFFA hosted its own ‘Celebrate Diversity’ event honoring that exact tradition. I learned so much about the Mexican culture and this beautiful holiday that honors and remembers those who have passed.
“Unlike Halloween, which is more of a dark, scary night and full of mischief, Dia de los Muertos unfolds over two days with color, festivities that show deep care and respect for deceased family members,” Oakes said.
According to tradition, the brightly colored marigolds help guide loved ones’ spirits to the ofrenda. Flowers such as this also represent the fragility of life.
Beginning Friday and continuing through Nov. 5, the community ofrenda will be open to the public at The Wharf, formerly known as The Landing mall.
The official Dia de los Muertos observance in 2020 begins Saturday and concludes Nov. 2.
“We’re so grateful that The Wharf is sponsoring the venue for our community effort,” Oakes said. “Everyone is welcome to come down, see it and add their sentiments and names of loved ones.”
This is a good time to create your own ofrenda at home, so NOLS will post videos on how to do it on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, noted Youth Services Librarian Mary Givins.
For information about this and other activities hosted by the library system, visit NOLS.org or phone 360-417-8500.
Ofrendas are also known as altars, but they aren’t tied to a particular church. Dia de los Muertos is a unifying national practice in Mexico based on indigenous traditions, Givins said.
For those who want to learn more about Dia de los Muertos while watching an Academy Award-winning movie, Oakes recommends Disney-Pixar’s “Coco.”
The film, the story of a young man connecting with his beloved family members and with the music they made, won Oscars for best animated feature and best original song for “Remember Me.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.