“As we all know, this year has been especially difficult for our community as COVID-19 has taken the lives of many of our relatives, friends, and neighbors,” says Eric Martinez, artist and RAM staff member. “Unfortunately, too many are simply seen as numbers. The community challenged RAM to create a visual display that honors the memories of loved ones lost as people and not just statistics. In response, we outreached to local artists Cosme Cordova and Martin Sanchez to build this community ofrenda.”

 The community is invited to participate in the ofrenda by adding items such as a paper cempasúchil, a type of marigold flower native to Mexico, or papel picado. A downloadable template for a paper cempasúchil and papel picado designed by RAM staff member Bethany Molyneaux is available at www.riversideartmuseum.org/ofrenda. Community members can add a unique message for their loved one using one of the templates and drawing/writing in the blank spaces, and then bring the papel picado to the museum to place on the altar. There is also a video on the RAM website on how to make a tissue-paper marigold flower, which can also be customized and brought to the ofrenda. 

“An ofrenda is our opportunity to honor our family and friends who have passed, and to hopefully provide them with items necessary for their journey,” adds Martinez. “A chance, possibly, to remind them and ourselves, that we still love them. I hope this can serve as a way for those of us who have lost loved ones to support one another as well.

They’re Not Numbers, They’re People | A Community Ofrenda runs Oct. 31–Nov. 7, 2020 on the front lawn of the Riverside Art Museum, 3425 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside. For more information, visit www.riversideartmuseum.org/ofrenda

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