Eiteljorg Insider: 5 Questions with Eduardo Luna of Arte Mexicano en Indiana
By: Brooke Sullivan, Digital Marketing Specialist
Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a tradition that spans back thousands of years and its activities are a blend of Mesoamerican ceremonies and Spanish Catholicism. Celebrated in Mexico and throughout the United States by the Mexican community, Día de Muertos is believed to be the day that the border separating the living and the dead dissolves, allowing passed loved ones to briefly return to the world of the living.
Every year people gather at the Eiteljorg Museum to celebrate Día de Muertos as a community. This annual celebration of life and Mexican culture would not be possible without the help of the museum’s partners such as Arte Mexicano en Indiana and Nopal Cultural. An integral partner, Eduardo Luna, founder of Arte Mexicano en Indiana and the co-creator of the Eiteljorg Museum’s Día de Muertos Community Celebration sat down with the Eiteljorg Blog to answer a few questions about the upcoming annual event.
1. Please describe Arte Mexicano en Indiana: How was the organization founded?
“Arte Mexicano en Indiana is an organization that encourages and promotes Mexican art and culture in Indiana. Before creating this organization, I worked on a Latino arts project and I noticed a gap in Indiana for the representation of Mexican, Latino and Hispanic art and culture. With Indiana having a large percentage of Latinos or those with Mexican heritage, I saw the need to create a space for this community, my community. I have had a lifelong interest in culture and arts growing up in Mexico and I love sharing that, but also having created the space to help lift up Mexican and Latino artists in Indiana, (I wanted to) have a space for the community to feel safe and represented.”
2. In what ways does Arte Mexicano en Indiana engage with the community?
“We like to organize small events that introduce art to the community; small exhibitions like the one we have at the Indianapolis Artsgarden titled Identidad, Dreams y Marchas!. We work with local arts institutions to create a space and platform for local and regional Mexican and Latino artists; and when we have the opportunity, we bring artists from Mexico to Indianapolis. For example we want to uplift our community’s artistic creators and create a space for artists of all skill levels. Then we also are partners with the Eiteljorg Museum for their annual Día de Muertos Community Celebration where we bring the tradition to the museum.”
3. Why is it important for people to engage in cultures other than their own?
“I believe art and culture is a very important aspect of any civilization, it gives people a unique identity and set of values. Art and culture influence every aspect and help create the personality of the culture. There would be no uniqueness of identity without artists and culture, and it helps give value to people from a community. When seeing the value in cultures other than your own, you hold more respect and understanding for other cultures and appreciate those differences. Then we can sit down and be seen as equal. It helps the community feel seen and have that heritage to celebrate without the fear of persecution. Our Mexican community is proud of our heritage but also have been able to adapt to the United States culture without losing our own identity.”
4. What would you like people to know about Día de Muertos before attending the celebration at the Eiteljorg?
“This is a tradition and holiday that started in Mexico and is very special to the community; this is not a Halloween costume or fashion statement, it represents our culture and our heritage. This is not an event for guests to appropriate the culture, but to learn, celebrate and experience the tradition. It has been celebrated for thousands of years and it is not Halloween. Be aware, be respectful. This should be a safe space for all those attending.”
5. Do you have a favorite aspect or tradition from your lifetime of Día de Muertos?
“When I was a kid, my family used to put an ofrenda up every year and it was very simple, at that time it was not as much fanfare or having all those artistic aspects (as ofrendas do) now. My favorite tradition from the holiday though was the pan de muerto, which is an amazing bread that we only ate on the holiday, and the real edible sugar skulls, also known as calaveras de azúcar. Really it was the food and listening to the family talk about adding certain foods for the spirits to eat and talking about loved ones who passed.”
The Eiteljorg is excited to welcome everyone to the annual Día de Muertos Community Celebration in partnership with Arte Mexicano en Indiana. The event is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 21, and admission to the Eiteljorg Museum is free that day. For more
information on the holiday and for some at home activities, visit: Eiteljorg.org/DíadeMuertos.
Be sure to check out all the amazing work Eduardo Luna is doing with Arte Mexicano en Indiana by following them on