All Good Things Must Come to an End…

This past weekend brought to a close the 2011 Young People’s Ofrenda exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The Works of Art Crew has since de-installed the 60 student ofrendas, patched and painted the gallery walls, and returned the ofrendas to Edison, Humboldt, El Colegio, and Austin High Schools.

Ofrendas readied for return to student artists

We thank the student artists, teachers, school administrators, and museum staff and volunteers for their creativity, enthusiasm, and commitment to this project. ¡Gracias a todos!

Avalon School Shares Photo Essay

Avalon School Exhibition Entrance

The Spanish 2 class at Avalon School (a charter school in St Paul that serves grades 7-12) created a young people’s ofrenda exhibit and photographed their ofrendas and artist statements.

Here is the link to their Flickr photo essay shared with us by Spanish teacher Annika Bowers: Avalon School Ofrenda Exhibition Photo Essay

An Avalon student's ofrenda to a young friend

Did your school make young people’s ofrendas this fall? Send us information, pictures, or a link to online content at We’d love to post about it here on the blog.

Nice work, Avalon Spanish 2 students!

Exhibition Opening Reception

We welcomed many of the 60 ofrenda artists, their families, and partner school teachers and administrators to the MIA earlier this month for a reception in their honor.

An artist and his family gather around his ofrenda in the exhibition

Several artists from each partner school spoke to the crowd about their ofrenda in a gallery talk facilitated and translated by museum guide Savita Bettaglio. Then, everyone enjoyed tamales (yum!) from La Loma.


Enjoy more photos from the event! The exhibition is on view now through December 4.

Ofrendas Arrive at MIA

The MIA Art Crew picked up 15 ofrendas from each of the 4 partner schools earlier this week and transported them to the museum.

A van load of ofrendas - destination MIA.

Upon arrival at the museum, the 60 ofrendas were tagged with tracking information and loaded onto carts for transport to Visual Resources.

Ofrendas entering the museum

Today, the Visual Resources staff photographed each ofrenda individually in their studio. These images will be added to the blog in the coming days.

Amanda and Dan in Visual Resources' photo studio

Ofrendas queued up for their photo shoot

Late this week, we will begin installing the exhibition in Gallery 110. Stay tuned…

Almost Showtime!

We’re so close to the finish line! On our last visit with El Colegio, students were full of excitement as they wrapped up their projects. Here’s a VIP sneak peek at the nearly finished ofrendas. Don’t forget to get an up close and personal look when the ofrendas are on display November 1st through December 4th at the MIA!

Oscar represents Guatemala with his blue and white ofrenda


Angel paints a different kind of Starry Night!


Beauty in the Details

The Thomas Edison High School student artists moved out of their Spanish classrooms into the art room this week. Surrounded by potters’ wheels and ceramic objects, we have witnessed the ofrendas transform from plain wooden crates to full-fledged, beautiful, dimensional and emotional statements that honor family members, friends, and heroes.

Joseph and Jonah preparing their crates

Ka Ying and Topacio hard at work

Seeing these ofrendas in their entirety is certainly exciting. However, as the students develop their ofrendas, it is also wonderful to spend time enjoying the beauty in the details. Every detail provides greater understanding not only of the person being honored, but also of the student artist who created it from his or her own imagination.

Here are just a few of the many intriguing details!

Malcolm X


Eyes on the world

As many of the Edison artists put the finishing touches on their ofrendas and explain the meanings of these details to each other, they are preparing to write personal statements about their works of art. These statements will help visitors to the Young People’s Ofrenda: Expressions of Life and Remebrance learn about what the many beautiful details mean to the student artists.

The exhibition opens November 1. We hope to see you at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts soon!

Austin Students Employ 21st-Century Skills

Critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity aren’t just education buzzwords at Austin High School. In chatting with Mr. Brobeck after class today, he observed that students are working together and offering each other constructive criticism on this project more than he often sees in his art classes. Perhaps it’s because students, in being asked to reflect and express themselves about something as deeply personal as the loss of a loved one or a hero, take comfort in connecting with others in the class experiencing similar emotions?

Austin students collaborating on materials prep

Creativity is very evident among the Austin students. There is great variety in the people being honored with ofrendas and the imagery being used to honor them. Citlalli is researching traditional Mexican Día de los Muertos calavera imagery of José Guadalupe Posada.

Citlalli with her Posada-inspired ofrenda-in-progress

Logan had a memorable experience as kid when his mom took him to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and he discovered the work of Pablo Picasso.

Logan working on one element of his Cubist-style ofrenda dedicated to Picasso

Rachel is inspired by the distance runner Steve “Pre” Prefontaine.

Rachel's ofrenda for "Pre"

Lindsey, whose ofrenda to Jackie O. was featured here last week, made really nice progress since our last visit.

Ofrenda for Jackie Kennedy Onassis

To hear students from Austin and the other 2011 partner schools discuss their ofrendas in their own words, watch their Phase 2 (Turning Ideas Into Images) videos. Please use the comment feature to leave the students your thoughts on their video blogs.

Ofrendas, Origami, and Jackie O.

Lindsey and Maggie work on their ofrendas

It was exciting to visit with Austin High School students this week about who they’ve chosen to honor with their ofrenda and what colors, images, and symbols they will use to represent the person(s) they’re honoring. Maggie (above, in blue) is planning to honor her grandfather, who was a professional firefighter. Lindsey (above, in black) is dedicating her ofrenda to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis – we talked about the Andy Warhol homage to Jackie O.

Lindsey and Logan learning to make origami roses

Later in the class period, Lindsey and Logan watched a YouTube two part video demonstrating how to make extremely complicated origami roses that Logan plans to include in his ofrenda. See origami rose folding demo part 1 and part 2.

Miguel honors his great grandfather with his ofrenda

Miguel is honoring his bisabuelo (great grandfather), who lived in Mexico and worked as a cattle rancher. Miguel is thinking of including a small steer sculpture to represent this aspect of his great grandfather’s life. He doesn’t remember a lot of other details about his great grandfather, so he plans to interview older family members to gather more information, ideas, and images.


Edison Students Express Themselves

Edison student's work-in-progess

Thomas Edison High School students in Señoritas Perry and Davis’ classes explored artistic expression firsthand during Phase 2 of the project. Each student created an art work about his or her feelings, making artistic choices about color, composition  and materials, which ranged from colored pencils, feathers, paper and ribbons to glitter glue, stickers and yarn. In preparation for writing artist’s statements later, the students also wrote about the choices they made for their art works and how these expressed what they were thinking about.

An Edison student at work

Señorita Davis led a lively discussion about her own obra de arte. She emphasized that student responses to her art work were equally valid as the meanings she expressed.

The Edison student artists are working on the final plans for their ofrendas and will begin filling the crates with images and symbols this week. They’ll also be coming to the MIA for a guided tour on the theme of “Honoring Ancestors.”


Austin High School is Proud!

Mr. Brobeck talking to the class

When we visited Austin High School (home of the Packers) recently, it was really neat to hear Mr. Brobeck talking with students about how proud the school and community are to partner with the MIA.

110 miles south of Minneapolis, Austin is home to Hormel Foods and the SPAM Museum. Austin High School is the only 2011 partner representing Greater Minnesota (meaning it’s outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area). Mr. Brobeck told the students their involvement in the Young People’s Ofrenda project is a chance to raise the profile of the school and the community in Minnesota and beyond through the exhibition of student ofrendas and Austin’s representation right here on the blog.

We’ll be back in Austin next week. We’re looking forward to checking in with Mr. Brobeck’s students to see the progress they’ve made on their ofrendas.