A special ofrenda at the National Museum of Mexican Art honors those dealing with Alzheimer's disease. Credit: Amelia Garza

PILSEN — Artist Gabriel Moreno has created an ofrenda to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.

Moreno teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois chapter for the ofrenda — an altar that honors lost loved ones — which has been dubbed “Te Llevaré: Altar for a Mother, a Father, a Father, a Mother” and is on display at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St.

The ofrenda honors the lives of four people — Maria B. Cerda, Jose R. Gonzalez, Abraham Montelongo and Socorro Rocha — with photographs and oral histories. The four people made large impacts on their communities and families, even while dealing with dementia and memory loss.

More than 6 million citizens in America are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and Hispanic people are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease in their lifetime.

The ofrenda is a part of the museum’s “Living Presence” exhibit, which features other ofrendas honoring those who have died as part of the museum’s Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

Amelia Garza, diversity and inclusion manager of the Alzheimer’s Association, lost two grandparents who had Alzheimer’s this year. Because of how common the disease is within Hispanic families, she reached out to the National Museum of Mexican Art with the hope of installing an ofrenda, she said.

“They just opened their arms to this project because they also recognize the need to talk about [Alzheimer’s] in the community and to raise awareness about it,” Garza said.

Garza chose Moreno, a childhood friend, as the person to curate the ofrenda, and she said they both realized how powerful the project is for them and affected communities. Moreno specializes in installation art; he took the stories of families affected by Alzheimer’s and incorporated them into the ofrenda.

“We both stood back and just took it in. We couldn’t believe that two kids from an economically downturned, rural community could come to Chicago and be exhibiting at the museum,” Garza said.

The event runs until Dec. 10. The museum held an after-school event related to the exhibit on Sept. 28.

“So often, we hear from generational households that events are needed for both children and seniors, so we decided to host an After School Fiesta,” Garza said.

There is also a QR code for the Alzheimer Association’s digital ofrenda, where people can submit photos of their lost loved ones and honor and celebrate their lives.

The National Museum of Mexican Art is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m Tuesday-Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, visit the museum website.

The 24/7 hotline for the Alzheimer’s Association is 800-272-3900. More resources can be found on the association’s website.

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