LOGAN SQUARE — Neighbors and local artists are teaming up to create a community installation for Día de los Muertos in the heart of Logan Square with handmade flags and altars.
The installation will debut at the end of October at the Comfort Station, an interdisciplinary arts space at 2579 N. Milwaukee Ave. Hand-sewn flags, banners and quilts will be installed on the blue structure outside of the building, along with ofrendas, or altars, made by local artists.
Día de los Muertos is celebrated Oct. 31-Nov. 2 across Mexico and the United States to remember loved ones who have died. The days coincide with the Catholic holidays All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, but the holiday came out of ancient Aztec traditions.
The Logan Square installation will mourn lost loved ones and neighborhood institutions that have vanished as the area has gentrified, like the Megamall flea market that was torn down for a massive luxury apartment complex.
With “everything that’s happened in Logan Square with displacement and COVID, we’ve been through a lot, and I feel like it’s really important to talk about what that means for us,” said Norma Rios-Sierra, event organizer and board member at the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. “It’s not just about mourning people, but also about spaces, and how that changes our environment and ability to enjoy our community.”
Carinna Yepez and Erica Maria Littlejohn from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago are leading sewing workshops out of the Comfort Station to help neighbors make the flags and other pieces of fiber art for the installation.
The artists have held two workshops so far and four more are planned through the end of October. The next one is set for 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. All of the workshops are free and open to the public.
For more information about the sewing workshops, visit the Comfort Station’s website.
“We’re really here to sew together, build community within the spaces we’re taking up. We do this in unity,” Yepez said, adding that neighbors don’t have to be of Mexican descent to join the effort or celebrate the holiday.
Rios-Sierra said the workshops allow people who maybe otherwise wouldn’t have met to come together and mourn as they create art.
“We’ve all been through so much. Some of us have had it much harder than others. I think it’s really important for the community to collectively mourn the loss we have all faced,” she said.
Nine local artists are creating the ofrendas. The installation will be the centerpiece of a Día de los Muertos celebration at the Comfort Station Oct. 30 with live music and local vendors.
“The beautiful thing about Día de los Muertos is it’s such a beautiful way to honor our loved ones. It’s not just about death. It’s about reminding us that we only have one life,” Rios-Sierra said. “The only thing that’s certain is that we won’t be here forever, so we should make the most of it while we’re here.”
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