Artists make an emotional return at Ofrendas show


Photo illustration by Sarah Penton

Senior Sarah Penton’s Ofrendas project focused on the tragic deaths of indigenous women.

By Kyra Aburto and Addam Sapien

Sophomore Daisy Morales arrived early. She and her mom were scheduled to set up refreshments at the Nov. 3 Ofrendas Gallery show. But when Daisy entered the room, she teared up and nearly cried. She admits it was a bit overwhelming to see the powerful art displayed in person.

“It felt like a dream,” she said. “Since, like being at home and not being able to do this, finally being able to come back is nice.”

As a student in Advanced Photo, Daisy’s project was on display, but she says more importantly this was the first time she’s really felt a part of something special.

Although FUHS visual artists created virtual shows last year, the Nov. 3 show was the first in-person display of art since Spring 2020. Ofrendas Día de los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, celebrates loved ones who have passed away.

Senior Sarah Penton focused on the plight of indigenous women who have gone missing or have been murdered in recent years. She used a red handprint on her little sister’s face in the photo to symbolize indigenous women dying for no reason at all. Penton wanted to convey the message that younger generations should know about some of the terrible things that are happening; they need to be aware of the life ahead of them.

Penton wanted to notice those who have gone unnoticed and, as a person who has privilege, she wants to stand with those whose voices have not been heard.

The gallery’s images varied from Penton’s homage to indigenous women to junior Angelica Marines’ tribute to her dog. The Tribe Tribune interviewed students about their methods and inspirations.

Senior Scout Passalaqua used marigolds and a candle to symbolize the ofrendas bringing people back to life. Her friend Abby Lynch was her model for the photo.
Junior Angelica Marines used her dog as a model in her piece. Although her dog is still alive, she is happy that she will have this piece when her pet passes away. “I have a deep love for her and I am remembering her through her death,” Marines said. She wanted something from the past to be used for the future. She says it represents her solitude with the thought of one day her pet passing on.
Sophomore Donya Moshiri used vibrant colors to represent her grandparents. “I lost my grandpa when I was little and I don’t really remember everything about him but one thing I do remember is that he liked jasmine flowers,” Moshiri said. Her preference for colorful photos captures her sister’s resemblance to their grandfather. “My sister has greenish eyes. The shaping of my Grandpa’s eyes are really dominant in our family, and my sister has them so we just framed them a little more.”
Senior Su Lwin used her bathtub and candlelight to create an altar in remembrance of her life in Burma for her piece. The subtle transition from dark to light is to disguise the actual set-up. “I just lit a few candles and thought that maybe if it was a bit more dark, then nobody could tell,” Lwin said. One ring was given to her as part of a family tradition and the other two before she came to the United States at age 4. “It wasn’t a long life but it does have a special meaning to me because it is a part of who I am,” Lwin said. “It can signify that I still appreciate those 4 years.”
Junior Isaiah Ervin focused on the eternal connection between the living and the deceased. “For this image, I wanted to show how even in death you can still feel the love you once had while your significant other was living,” Ervin said. “After death she still brings life.” Using photoshop, Ervin added a black and white filter then cut out the second hand to make it appear transparent. “I wanted to choose black and white to show an absence of color. To show that without this person, his life is empty. The ghost hand would be in color to show there is still some joy even though the love of your life has passed.”
Senior Shirley Guadarrama perfected her first gallery photo from freshman year to capture the beauty of Dia de los Muertos and share her love for the holiday. “Even though it’s a ‘sad’ holiday, it’s still really festive in the colors that they use to honor their loved ones. It’s very interesting compared to other holidays. So, I thought it would be nice to capture the art of it,” Guadarrama said. She worked with her sister to incorporate traditional Dia de los Muertos makeup, warm colors and orange marigolds. After taking a variety of photos, lighting adjustment, and minor retouches, Guadarrama and her sister positioned the final left and right pieces to look towards the center. “We were going for something really soft.”

This story was originally published on Tribe Tribune on November 11, 2021.