College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Celebrate 2022 Dia de los Muertos at CSUMB

three photos, a sugar skull, two employees with their sugar skulls and a poster with child holding skull with candle announcing Day of the Dead at CSUMB


Join Us!  VPA's 25th Annual Day of the Dead Celebration at CSUMB:  The Covid-19 Pandemic, agricultural workforce, and remembrance on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 5-7 pm, VPA Complex Building 70

All events are free and open to the public, all are welcome!


About: Our annual Dia de Los Muertos/ Day of the Dead event includes a processional, large­ scale altar, performing Aztec dancers, traditional Mexican refreshments, club, sorority and fraternity altars, student artwork, and a cross section of students, faculty, staff and local community members. The Day of the Dead Event includes a series of hands-on workshops, interdisciplinary class presentations, support for the development of club altars, and the preparation of materials such as paper banners, flower arches, student temporary digital projects, and community youth projects. These affiliated workshops and events are part of the larger celebration of Dia de Los Muertos/ Day of the Dead, which will occur on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the Visual & Public Art Complex.

This year's event will include face painting at the Student Center, Aztec dancers, drummers, a processional, musical performances, and a community gathering at the VPA Complex (Building 70). The event will include a collaborative community altar composed of work from students in classes across the CSUMB campus as well as altars made by students in the Day of the Dead class. This event also introduces diverse aspects of our campus community and regional cultures.

For more information, please contact Project Coordinator, Professor Dionicio Mendoza (dimendoza[at]csumb[dot] edu), shown above top right photo at left with VPA's Steev White, or VPA Dept. Chair, Angelica Muro (amuro[at]csumb[dot].edu) or read more on our Celebrate Dia de los Muertos at CSUMB page.

We look forward to seeing you at the celebration!


More about Dia de los Muertos at CSUMB

2021 & 2020 Dia de los Muertos

For more about our Dia de los Muertos celebrations during the 2020 COVID shutdown and reduced-capacity 2021 events, please visit the archive page.

Dio Mendoza at Altar
VPA Day of the Dead Artwork by Dio Mendoza

When Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, arrives, family members of departed souls set out water, candles, food and decorated sugar skulls to welcome their lost loved ones. Widely celebrated in Latin America, the day honors the dead as living entities. It celebrates the departed, and helps keep them present in life.

The primary goal of the Day of the Dead here at CSUMB is to provide a community-building experience for students, the campus, and our surrounding communities. The event helps to break down isolation as it brings together in an active arts expression diverse members of our campus community. Because it takes place in a central space, it allows students who might not normally have the opportunity to interact to share in a collective expression of history and memory. The ceremony provides students a chance to learn arts traditions such as making sugar skulls, papel picado (paper cutting), flower arch preparation, and altar construction.

The annual Day of the Dead event includes a processional, large-scale altar, performing Aztec dancers, traditional Mexican refreshments, student artwork, a series of hands-on workshops, inter-disciplinary class presentations, and community youth projects. The event begins with face painting at the Student Center, followed by a candlelight processional with Aztec dancers, drummers, musical performances and folkloric dancers at the community gathering at the main altar at the VPA Complex. This event also includes a collaborative altar comprised of work by students in classes across campus as well as altars made by students in the VPA Day of the Dead class. The main altar display provides the campus community with an opportunity to recognize the memory of their loved ones who have passed away and to find a joyful spirit of endurance in a difficult time.

The Day of the Dead celebration is part of an ongoing tradition begun in Meso-American times in Mexico. The traditions come from a cultural practice of honoring the dead through offerings, spectacle, and celebration. This celebration includes altars and spiritual acts of remembrance. Since 1995, VPA has transformed this tradition into a contemporary cross-cultural ceremony of memory. Annually, the event draws between 200-300 participants from across the campus and regionally as a place for family-based gathering.

The curriculum of Day of the Dead offers a cross-cultural approach to community memory and engages the campus in community building. The celebration of this tradition exemplifies the vision of the University, and in particular, global interdependence, ethics, inter-disciplinarity, community service, and cross-culturalism. The event itself is a community-building experience, bringing together youth from our local communities, students, faculty, and staff.

2019 Dia de los Muertos Snapshots:

Aztec Dancers

Main Altar

Student Altars

Face Painting

Sugar Skull Workshop

Sugar Skulls Drying

Pet Altar

Papel Picado

Mona Celebrates

Aztec dancers lead the procession
participants in procession

More About the History of Dia de los Muertos at CSUMB

Dia de los Muertos is a tradition at CSU Monterey Bay started nearly 25 years ago by now-retired Professor Amalia Mesa-Bains. In 2009, KQED, the Public Broadcasting System affiliate in San Francisco, filmed a story on the VPA class once taught by Dr. Mesa-Bains.