Ofelia Esparza

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Headshot of a woman.

Photo by Mark Markley

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2018 National Heritage Fellow

Chicana altarista and 2018 National Heritage Fellow Ofelia Esparza carries on and extends her family’s tradition of celebrating The Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos by creating altars to honor deceased loved ones and create a bridge between the living and the dead. She brings an artist’s eye to this cultural practice: her altars are colorful, intricate multi-level structures embellished with photos, traditional food, flowers, as well as handmade and found ornaments that evoke ancestors and deceased relatives. She’s also been in the forefront of reclaiming this practice for the Chicana community in Los Angeles. In this podcast, Ofelia shares her stories of growing up in East LA and discusses the essential meaning at the heart of Dia de los Muertos which is to remember.