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  October 23, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 18Oakland, CA

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Students honor the dead with art at museum exhibit

What is Dias de los Muertos?

Alameda AIDS ministry reaches out to teens

Interfaith prayer service to support those affected by AIDS

Ethnic communities celebrate Chautauqua

San Damiano celebrates 45 years as retreat center

St. Monica Parish dedicates its new PEACe building

Holy Names University to begin three new programs in forensic psychology

Memorial Mass to remember all deceased priests, deacons, wives

Seven men begin journey to priesthood in diocese

Marist Sister spent 30 years as a missionary

High school teacher
professes first vows
as Holy Names Sister

A diocesan challenge: how to create a culture of vocations

Student describes abduction into guerrilla army

Rapping priest says genre speaks to young people

Maker of film on abuse trades words with cardinal’s spokesman over movie

Catholics urged to imitate heroic virtues displayed by the Amish

South Korean bishops urge dialogue, patience

Vatican supports treaty to regulate sale of all conventional weapons

Church leaders join pleas to save people of Darfur

Bishops ask McDonald’s
to seek better wages for their tomato pickers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Happy Bones Amusement Park” by fifth and eighth graders at St. Jerome School in El Cerrito

Students honor the dead with art at museum exhibit

Mary Jo Mishork is a great believer in integrated learning. That’s why her lucky fifth graders at St. Jerome Elementary School in El Cerrito get to have art projects and math lessons at the same time.

For example, one day Mishork asked her class how many bones there are in 14 skeletons. The students turned away from their stacks of toothpicks and white modeling clay long enough to scribble a few numbers and calculations on their note pads.

Then they went back to the task at hand -- creating little smiling skeletons of their beloved dead pets for an exhibit entitled “All Animals Go to Heaven” that would be part of their class’ participation in the “Laughing Bones/Weeping Hearts” Dias de los Muertos (Days of the Dead) celebration at the Oakland Museum of California. The exhibit opened Oct. 11 and continues through Dec. 3.

Museum visitors can see the delightful fruits of these young artists’ labor when they walk into the exhibit’s Columbarium section, a collaborative installation with several East Bay schools and community groups. It provides a place for people to gather and remember their beloved dead. St. Jerome and Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward are two of the six schools invited to participate in this year’s exhibit.

Moreau visual art students, under the direction of Lynn McGeever and Allegra Fullerton, made cut paper stained glass windows called papel picado, using black construction paper and colored crepe paper to create silouhuettes of dead relatives, friends and pets. The work of 27 of the artists was selected for the Columbarium.

This is Moreau’s third year to be represented in exhibits for the Days of the Dead – first at SOMA, then Hayward Sun Gallery and now the Oakland Museum. Some of their papel picado will be on display in the Moreau student center as well as the B Street Book Shop in Hayward.

Mishork’s class at St. Jerome was tapped for the honor after she wrote a letter to Fernando Hernandez, a Hayward artist in charge of the Columbarium, asking if her students could participate. For the past five years, Mishork has taken her fifth graders to the Days of the Dead celebration, “and they love the dancing skeletons that are such a wonderful part of folk art.”

Kids identify with folk art, she said, “because it is so much like their own.” Besides, observance of the Days of the Dead “is a really good way to look realistically at the cycle of life and death. It’s a natural thing.”

Mishork received Hernandez’s invitation letter in August, which didn’t give her much time to mount an exhibit. When school began, she enlisted her former students, now in the sixth grade, for ideas on what they thought would make a good ofrenda – an offering altar. Several of them, including one eighth grader, worked right alongside the new fifth graders on the project.


Ninth grade art students at Moreau Catholic High in Hayward create papel picado for the Oakland Museum’s Dias de los Muertos exhibition. They are, from left, Lawson Navaro, Mark Conti, Errol Tongco, Andrew King, Aaron Asilo and Claire McGinty.

 


“Cowboy” by Ramsey Pierson, a ninth grader at Moreau Catholic High

 


Seven students in St. Jerome’s fifth grade created the “Mourning Hearts Cemetery.” In describing their ofrenda, they wrote, “This is a sad scene. People in a funeral procession pass in cars and trucks. Each headstone tells a story. The first one shows the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos. The third one shows Chinese funeral rites. The middle one honors all brave military personnel who have died.”


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The kids created six ofrendas including a Mourning Hearts Cemetery, a Happy Bones Amusement Park, and one honoring Diane Shaughnessy, St. Jerome School secretary who died this past summer of a brain tumor.

In their special tribute to “our dear school secretary,” the artists recreated her desk with its computer, mug, worksheets and frame of family photos. One child drew the Irish cross that hung behind her desk. The ofrenda also honors the family dinners Mrs. Shaughnessy had with her husband and children. “They loved ribs, corn on the cob, salad, olives, and any dessert with pink frosting on it,” says students’ description of their work.

The “Happy Bones Amusement Park” features a group of skeletons having a good time, and includes such accessories as balloons, lollipops, candy, hot dogs, hamburgers, and tacos.
This year’s exhibit also includes a double spiral labyrinth, curator Carol Marie Garcia’s symbol for the walk of life. One path is lined with shoes from the living; the other with shoes from those who have died, exemplifying the life and death aspects of the tradition and this year’s theme.

“Imagine Death to be a watchful eye that sees both the living and the dead,” Garcia said. “Looking toward the dead, Death sees laughing bones that are happy to be liberated. Glancing toward the living, Death sees weeping hearts that are sad for the loss of loved ones.”

Thirteen Bay Area artists developed aspects of the theme.

“Laughing Bones, Weeping Hearts,” will be on display until Dec. 3. There will be gallery talks by students and their teachers on Nov. 3 from 4 to 7 p.m.

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