The Tours Have Started!

The exhibition opened Tuesday Nov 1, and the installation looks great. I was stepping out of the museum a little after 10 AM, right after the museum opened its doors to the public, and there was a group of high school students waiting to tour the exhibition.

It would be wise to plan for your tour early. You can schedule the tour using this form.


Exhibition opens!

Yesterday the Art Crew at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts spent most of the day installing the student ofrendas in the gallery. With 60 labels and a video screen that features the students’ narrative, the exhibition is now open to the public.

The exhibition will be open until Dec 4, 2011. The next event is a private party at the museum that celebrates the opening of the exhibition and honors the 60 student artists. Families and school administrators will be part of this event. Stay tuned for an update soon.

Final Stages at Humboldt

The project is entering its final stages, and the students at Humboldt High School are very enthusiastic to see their work in the gallery. There are a few students who are putting their final touches to their work, and others who stood proudly by their ofrenda.

Daisy's work looks great.

Remember when Daisy was working on this?

Jasmine proudly stand by her work.

Der working on her final narrative.

The ofrendas that are not coming to the MIA will be displayed in different parts of the school. This example is outside the Art classes.

Lastly, the crates that will be displayed in the museum will be picked up next week, then photographed, and hung in the gallery.

Finished crates waiting to be brought to the museum.

Phase 3: Create a Personal Ofrenda

As you can see by previous posts, this week’s topic for the students is to create a personal ofrenda. For the past several weeks, the students have been brainstorming for ideas, seeing the topics for previous ofrendas, researching their own topics, and doing preliminary work on their shrine. This week the students have gotten down to business and have started to decorate their ofrenda with personal objects that include photographs, beads, ceramic sculptures, drawings, and other items.

Before we get to the photos of the Humboldt High School student’s work, Art teacher Ms. Millazzo asks:

We would love to hear how the project is going for your students. Please feel free to comment below.

The Humboldt students have been making great progress on their project, and several ofrendas have been updated since last week.

She is tying small paper flowers on the outer edge of her work.

I honestly have no idea the topic of this ofrenda, but it is graphically rich. I can hardly wait to read the labels that the student will write.

The student’s Phase 2 videos will be uploaded within the next few days, so be sure and see the group from Phase 1.

Poner tus ideas en imágenes | Turning Ideas into Images at El Colegio

To see students’ ofrenda designs at El Colegio High School develop from the initial steps of gathering ancestral information, to laying out their visions on paper, is like seeing the inside of machine in motion. Take a look as they: work on their bocetos, the Spanish word for sketches; begin painting; and select familial objects to make their ofrendas their very own.

El Colegio instructor explaining to the class the importance of planning out their designs

Students planning ofrenda designs

Students prepping their crates for painting

El Colegio Class unleashing their creativity

Student Melisandra finds objects to represent her abuelito

Many students have been captivated by imagery of la noche, the night sky

Student-made skulls will adorn their ofrendas


Phase One: Honor Ancestors student videos are now uploaded! You can see them here, and the students would love to know your thoughts on their work.

Art for the Ancestors Inspires Edison Students at the MIA

Edison High School students visited the MIA for tours about honoring ancestors on Wednesday, Septmeber 28. They observed details of art works ranging from a 17th-century Chinese Audience Hall, and an ancient Mexican tomb sculpture to African sculptures spanning centuries. They speculated on the meanings of the works of art and discussed how the choices made by the artists might influence their own ofrendas. The tour guides also engaged the students in conversation about two of the ofrendas made by El Colegio High School students for last year’s exhibition and introduced them to the gallery in which the ofrendas will be exhibited from November 1 to December 4.

Edison Students head to the galleries

The rich ofrenda designs created by the students back at school reflect ideas inspired by their museum visit including the use of symmetry, banners, figures on multiple levels and writing integrated with images.  Their week ended in the art studio where the students began to transform their crates into unique ofrendas.

A lesson in symmetry from the ancient Egyptians

Ofrendas from last year’s exhibition inspire students

Phase 2: Turn Ideas into Images

As the second week of this project comes to a close, an update from Humboldt High School is in order. This week’s focus has been “turn ideas into images,” and the students have been using their work during phase one as a guide. Using the materials in the Ofrenda Teacher’s Guide, Art teacher Mr. Elizondo, has his students develop their ideas on a worksheet before they start to video record their thoughts.

Many of the students have already painted their wooden crates and have started to add photographs of their subjects.

And of some of the painting is very detailed:

Or in progress:

We will be following the progress of several ofrendas as they come together, and this week’s focus is the work that honors the famous Hunkpapa Lakota Sitting Bull (Tatonka-Iyatanka).

Mr. Elizondo and the student discuss her Sitting Bull ofrenda

In her work, she has cleverly painted the four sides of the crates white, red, black, yellow. These colors are often referred to as the four sacred colors that symbolize the four directions among Native American traditionalists. We’ll check in next week to see how it is progressing.

Do you need a poster for your classroom? Send us an e-mail at: and we will send you one!

Edison High School Students Write About Their Ofrendas

Edison High School students in Spanish classes with Señoritas Davis and Perry engaged in lively discussions in response to their research about Días de los Muertos and ofrendas. Students enjoyed learning that this celebration of life mocks death, and found it interesting that in Mexico celebrants eat at the graveside and that ofrendas can be made not only for family, but also for others who have died. Another discussion focused on how cool it is that everyone who has died is celebrated at the same time.

Discussion questions for Edison students

The students have also begun to write journal entries about their personal ofrendas in response to questions like “To whom do I want to dedicate this ofrenda?” and “What more would I like to know about this person or people?” As the students continue to learn more about the people they have chosen to honor, they are also beginning to turn their ideas into designs for their ofrendas.

Happy face!

Are you and your students following the project using the Ofrenda Teacher’s Guide? Need it in Spanish? We would love to hear how your project is going!

El Colegio High School visits the MIA

Fifteen energetic ninth graders from El Colegio High School visited the Minneapolis Institute of Arts last Wednesday for a tour. Students had the opportunity to view objects in the museum’s collections on the theme of honoring ancestors. Their tour led them around the world in the span of only a few hundred feet and their interests were piqued by the many similarities various cultures share in regards to honoring ancestors. As we observed the students scribbling away on their notepads, we hoped the tour spurred some great imagery for them to use in their own ofrenda creations. Stay tuned!

Spanish-speaking tour guide, Maria (second from the left) prepares to tour the students from El Colegio High School.

Interested in Spanish language tours at the MIA? Go here for more information.

Humboldt Secondary School is Off and Running!

We took an afternoon and visited Humboldt Secondary School to see the progress of their ofrendas. There are two classes that are working on this project at the same time, Mr. Elizondo’s and Ms. Millazzo’s students are making great headway. They have chosen their topics and are painting their wooden crates. The teacher remarks, “The crates have been delivered and the students are hard at work generating ideas for their Ofrenda. After viewing past Ofrendas, they are excited to get started,” Steve Elizondo- Art Teacher.

Mr. Elizondo's Art Class

Ms. Milazzo's Art Class

There are several students who have started painting the details for their ofrenda, and next week they will gather materials and start to glue items in. There were a wide variety of subjects; family members, fellow students, General Vang Pao, Sitting Bull, and Marilyn Monroe. It is great to see a wide variety of subjects. Clearly, the students have given the question on the blackboard some thought: