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Art-Making Activity:

Making an Ofrenda


As a class project, memorials or ofrendas can be created to honor a special person, such as an artist or other famous person who is no longer living. Brainstorm with your students to identify famous people for whom an ofrenda could be made. Popular Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera or Frida Kahlo are interesting people to study, and provide an opportunity to discuss Mexico’s artistic heritage, but the possibilities for other artists or famous people that you might choose to honor in this way are truly endless.

Have your students research the person’s life. Gather books and articles on the person, and divide your students into research groups, giving each the task of researching an aspect of the person’s life. Some suggestions include making a timeline of the person’s life, assembling a list of quotes, collecting images, and learning about the person’s most famous work or achievement.

As a class, have your students discuss what an ofrenda for this person might look like. Set up a small table against a wall in your classroom or somewhere in the school. Cover the table with a fabric appropriate for the person or time period in which he or she lived. For example, a brightly colored oilcloth would make a great table cover for an ofrenda to Frida Kahlo.

Have your students brainstorm a list of items they would like to include on the ofrenda. Common items that would be appropriate for anyone include flowers (real or artificial), candles (with the wicks cut short or removed), paper banners, papier mache skeletons and sugar skulls. Things specific to the person might include photographs (or photocopies of photographs) of the person, food items he or she would have eaten in life, reproductions of his or her work (paintings, books, important documents, etc.) and maps of his or her hometown or country. Once the items are determined, collect them and arrange them on the covered table or on the wall behind.

Display the completed ofrenda as an educational exhibit with a written explanation of the project and a biography of the person honored.