Post Mortem Dinner Party


Día de Los Muertos has origins in Mexico and is believed to be the one day a year the dead can visit their loved ones, and this is the day their memory is honored. The deceased loved ones participate in the day by setting up altars, cleaning the gravestones, and sharing stories. Kathryn Duran incorporated a few items that hold symbolic meaning in her Día de Los Muertos exhibition in Gallery 106 . She said, “When it comes to the offering some might bring something as small as a some bread and fruit for strength, candles to light their way back home, and flowers for respect.”

The gallery featured many Chicano inspired artworks. Among them was a table with a white embroidery cloth. The table resembled an alter; adorned with candles, flowers, candy, a pitcher, two plates with post-its, and a frame with text in it. In the text Kathryn asked the viewer to pick up the utensils (marker and post its) to answer, “If your loved one were to come back (from the dead) for one meal, what would you bring them?”

The question left me stumped; I thought to myself if I had the chance to share a meal with my grandmother what would I prepare for her? As I looked up I saw these pictures of people holding a picture of their loved ones in one hand and the plate of food in the other. The picture on the bottom left was one of the pictures that caught my eye right away the person is not the subject, but the picture of the couple in their hand is and the bottle of Coca-Cola adds to that story. The third picture on the top row also caught my interest. In this picture the person is holding a picture of a woman in one hand and in the other hand a jar of instant coffee. I thought to myself something as simple as a jar of instant coffee holds so much meaning in simply being a reminder of a loved one.


Kathryn shared that her family participates in Día de Los Muertos by bringing fresh flowers and brushes to clean her grandfather’s headstone. For dinner the family brings tacos, beer, and peanuts for her grandfather to enjoy. It comes to show that it is not about the food we have on our table but whom we share it with that makes a meal so special.

Día de Los Muertos is a day of remembrance for all of our loved ones that have passed. With her photo series Kathryn hopes to get more people to participate in the Day of the Dead activities. In Gallery 106 she engaged the viewers to participate by simply writing down or drawing the food they would share with their loved ones that have passed.

Wendy Arreola