The Antonio E. Garcia Arts & Education Center Presents Día de los Muertos Kickoff Fiesta

Lezlie+Valadez%2C+community+performer%2C+sings+outside+of+the+Garcia+Arts+and+Education+Center.+Photo+by+Lillian+Crane

Lezlie Valadez, community performer, sings outside of the Garcia Arts and Education Center. Photo by Lillian Crane

Chloe Tilley, Reporter

The Día de Los Muertos Kickoff Fiesta invited the Corpus Christi community to celebrate local culture and loved ones who have passed away. The Fiesta was organized by Dr. Esmeralda Herrera-Teran, the director of the Garcia Center. There were also featured musical performances by local singer Leslie Valadez, as well as a speech from Corpus Christi mayor, Paulette Guajardo.

Same community singer performing song outdoors
Lezlie Valadez, community performer, sings outside of the Garcia Arts and Education Center. Photo by Lillian Crane

 

Mayor Guajardo speaking with artist in crowd outdoors
Mayor Paulette Guajardo speaks with a young local artist whose art has been featured in the Garcia Center. Photo by Chloe Tilley

 

Same community singer performing song outdoors
Lezlie Valadez, community performer, sings outside of the Garcia Arts and Education Center. Photo by Lillian Crane

 

While being a celebration of life, the fiesta was also a celebration of local art and artists. The Garcia Center collaborated with and was sponsored by K Space Contemporary, an arts organization based in Corpus Christi. The organization is also responsible for the downtown Día de los Muertos Festival that took place on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Writing of roof of The Antonio E. Garcia Arts Education Center
The Antonio E. Garcia Arts Education Center, in partnership with TAMU-CC, presents the Day of the Dead kickoff fiesta. Photo by Chloe Tilley

Dr. Nancy Vera, president of the Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers and candidate for Corpus Christi City Council, was present at the fiesta decorating an ofrenda or altar for Dr. Leonardo Carrillo. “Day of the dead means celebrating the lives of our loved ones who have passed and bringing them back to life in terms of things like ofrendas and altars,” Vera said. “Also remembering their legacy, and so I think to me that is the important thing: still living for those who lived before us and making life better for others.” 

The Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers partnered with the Garcia Arts Center to give instruction to future teachers. The fiesta also involved remembering these teachers who have passed, such as Dr. Leonardo Carrillo, the founder of the Garcia Arts Center. 

Mayor Guajardo speaking to crowd outdoors
Paulette Guajardo, Mayor of Corpus Christi, speaks to the audience. Photo by Lillian Crane

Dr. Nancy Vera described her favorite part of the fiesta: “The people who have come to see [our culture] as well as the children. And the fact that they’re learning about our culture, which is unusual. You can go to so many events across the city but this one is much more educational, so much more sophisticated, so much more about the children and the art, and that’s the beauty of it. They’re going to learn about their culture, which is important because sometimes we lose touch with who we are. But in this case, we are our authentic selves celebrating the day of the dead,” Vera said.

Singer performing song for crowd outdoors
Local singer, Leslie Valadez, who goes by the stage name Neni V., performs “Como la Flor” by late Chicana singer Selena Quintanilla. Photo by Chloe Tilley

Attendees described what the Day of the Dead means to them. “Day of the dead, for me, is a newer cultural experience,” said Cheryl with K Space Contemporary. “What I am experiencing is a remembrance of the people that I love and to be able to make sure that we don’t forget them and that when Day of the Dead comes around, we celebrate who they were and always will be.” April, a young attendee, cooly described the best part of the fiesta in one word: “Candy.”

Mayor Guajardo and Director of the Garcia Arts Center huggin
Esmeralda Herrera-Teran, Director of Academic Success at the Garcia Arts and Education Center, and Paulette Guajardo, Mayor of Corpus Christi, share a hug between speeches. Photo by Lillian Crane

While Day of the Dead acknowledges the death of loved ones, it is ultimately a celebration of life. People across the Coastal Bend had the opportunity to partake in a beautiful celebration through this fiesta and the festival that took place the following Saturday. Día de los Muertos is not a time to mourn, but a time of remembrance and love.

 

Sources:

For more information regarding the Corpus Christi Day of the Dead Festival, visit https://www.diadelosmuertos.com/

For more information on K Space Contemporary, visit their website at https://www.kspacecontemporary.org/about