Days of the Dead: From Mexican Roots to Present Day Practice in the US is an exhibit organized and sponsored by Duke University’s Program for Latino/a Studies in the Global South. It will be held from mid-September to early November, 2012, and include photographic images from a group of amateur and professional photographers taken in the villages of Teotitlan del Valle and Xoxocotlan in Oaxaca, Mexico, during the 2011 celebration there.
The photographers participated in a workshop led by Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies faculty member Bill Bamberger and produced by Norma Hawthorne, director, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. The show will be in the Fredric Jameson Gallery in the Friedl Building where the Program for Latino/a Studies in the Global South is located to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month.
You can see a video and photos from the 2011 Day of the Dead Photography Expedition HERE.
The exhibit will also include a narrative to share the history and roots of Days of the Dead celebrations in Mexican culture. It will include an altar to incorporate Day of the Dead practices in the United States and a video. This exhibit will be a faculty/staff/student collaboration. Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC will take part as an event co-sponsor and other organizations will be invited, too.
For more information about the exhibit, contact Jenny Snead Williams, executive director, Duke University Program for Latino/a Studies in the Global South. See their social network sites on Facebook and Twitter.
7 Nights and 8 Days, Sunday, October 28 to Sunday, November 4, 2012. Bill Bamberger returns in 2012 to lead this very popular expedition that gives you an intimate view of Oaxaca’s extraordinary Day of the Dead celebrations.
You get a taste of how the city and a smaller village celebrate. Bill teaches in the Folklore Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in the renown Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. His approach is both creative and technical.
Travel with us to Oaxaca, Mexico where you will explore the magic and mystery of Day of the Dead through photography– a feast for the visual senses. This seven-night, eight-day expedition is a cultural immersion experience. Come with us to document the food, religious symbols, people, cemeteries and family celebrations both in the city and in the rural Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle. By the end of the week, you will better use your digital SLR camera for visual storytelling and cultural discovery.
We will accept 10 participants. Last year we filled quickly. If this is something you’ve always dreamed of doing, don’t hesitate!
This workshop is for beginning and intermediate-level amateur photographers who want to learn more about their digital SLR cameras and move more comfortably beyond the automatic setting. Technical topics covered include using natural light, aperture and shutter speed, using a tripod for night-time photography, using bounce flash, focusing on details, photographing people and taking the time to set up your shot.
The workshop features documentary-style photography, which involves some degree of assimilation and a greater understanding of the culture and people you are photographing. On this journey you will photograph people in their natural settings, experience local rituals, visit family environments, all as you immerse yourself in both the city and rural life of Oaxaca.
During our week together, we will review each other’s work, give feedback, and offer supportive critiques. The workshop includes a mix of class instruction and being out on the streets to capture the action. We offer structured group discussion and opportunities for individual feedback with Bill during privately scheduled coaching sessions.
You will have the option to undertake an independent project during the week to document Day of the Dead family observances and rituals. Here is what 2011 participant, photographer Nick Eckert, created:
About Photographer and Educator Bill Bamberger
For two decades Bill Bamberger has been photographing people around the world and their daily lives. His photographs have appeared in Aperture, Doubletake, Harper’s and the New York Times Magazine. He has appeared as a featured guest on CBS Sunday Morning, About Books (CSPAN2), and North Carolina People with William Friday. His first book, Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory (DoubleTakeBooks/Norton, 1998), won the Mayflower Prize in Nonfiction and was a semifinalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.
Bamberger’s work explores large social issues of our time: the demise of the American factory, housing in America, adolescents coming of age. A trademark of Bamberger’s exhibitions is that they are first shown in the community where he has chosen to photograph prior to their museum exhibition. Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory premiered in an abandoned department store a block from the closed furniture factory, while Stories of Home was first shown in a custom-designed 1,000 square foot mobile art gallery on San Antonio’s Mexican-American West Side.
Bamberger has had one-person exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery and the National Building Museum. He was one of fifty-six American artists to take part in Artists and Communities: America Creates for the Millennium, the National Endowment for the Arts millennium project where he produced part II in an ongoing series about teenage boys coming of age.
Bill lives in Durham, North Carolina, and teaches photography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at Duke University. He has lectured at museums and universities, and has taught classes and workshops for the public good in underserved communities across the country. His ability to relate to people to draw them into the photographic experience as a subject is why he makes an outstanding instructor. Website: billbamberger.com
Preliminary Itinerary (subject to change)
Day 1, Sunday, October 28: Travel to Oaxaca and check-in to our lovely bed and breakfast close to the Zocalo. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Oaxaca.
Day 2, Monday, October 29: After breakfast and a brief orientation, we’ll embark on a group walking expedition around the city, visit markets selling wild marigold, special breads, candies, and holiday ritual necessities. After lunch we will meet for class, then enjoy free time to capture the “magic hour” before dinner. Options to explore churches, street parades, public altars. Overnight Oaxaca. Includes breakfast, lunch.
Day 3, Tuesday, October 30: After breakfast and class, we will arrange an optional guided visit to Monte Alban and the Atzompa pottery village. Otherwise, you will have the day on your own. We’ll meet in late afternoon to review our best of day work. Overnight Oaxaca. Includes breakfast.
Day 4, Wednesday, October 31: After breakfast and class, you will have the afternoon free. At 3:30 p.m. we will go together to the famed Xoxocotlan cemetery for an extraordinary Day of the Dead extravaganza. This is a VERY late night, so be prepared! We will stay until at least 12 a.m. Overnight Oaxaca. Includes breakfast.
Day 5, Thursday, November 1: After breakfast and a debriefing session, we will leave for the Zapotec weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle. After lunch and check-in at our bed and breakfast posada, we’ll enjoy a village walkabout orientation. Overnight Teotitlan del Valle. Includes breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6, Friday, November 2: After breakfast and a briefing session, we will pair you with another participant and introduce you to a local host family for a cultural immersion experience. This gives you the opportunity to meet people and share in their customs and traditions. The families welcome you into their homes where you will share the traditional meal and go with them to the village cemetery. We’ll see you back at our B&B after nightfall. Overnight Teotitlan del Valle. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Day 7, Saturday, November 3: After breakfast we will share experiences and photos of the day before in our last class session. You’ll have the rest of the day on your own to meander or prepare your Best of Week photo exhibition and celebration supper. Includes breakfast and dinner.
Day 8, Sunday, November 4: After breakfast leave for your home countries.
What You Should Bring
1) Your energy and enthusiasm
2) Digital SLR camera
3) Laptop computer
4) Software for organizing and presenting images (such as Lightroom)
5) Batteries and battery charger
6) Camera Memory card(s) and data sticks
7) Pen and notepad
Plus, sturdy, comfortable walking shoes, sun protection, sun hat
(Upon registration, you will receive a complete packet and information guide with suggested packing list and other useful information.)
Lodging/Accommodations. To keep this experience affordable, we have selected accommodations that are clean and basic. We will spend three nights in Oaxaca at a bed and breakfast featured in the New York Times, and three nights at a posada/hostel in Teotitlan del Valle. If you prefer luxury accommodations, please consider a different program.
Cost: The basic cost for the trip is $1,395. USD. This includes seven nights lodging shared occupancy with shared bath, seven breakfasts, three lunches, three dinners, transportation to the villages included in the itinerary, and all instruction. Most travel workshops of this type and length cost more than twice as much! It does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips/gratuities, travel insurance, liquor/alcoholic beverages, some meals as specified in the itinerary, site entry fees, and transportation.
You will have the option of sharing a double room with shared bath for the base price of the trip. Please indicate your preference.
Option 1: Double room with shared bath; $1,395. Deposit to reserve: $700.
Option 2: Double room with private bath; $1,595. Deposit to reserve: $800.
Option 3: Single Supplement, private room with private bath; $1,795. Deposit to reserve: $900.
Option 4: Add one night lodging in Oaxaca on Saturday, October 27, +$125 each.
Option 5: Add guided visit to Monte Alban and Atzompa pottery village, $65 per person (minimum of 2 people needed). We will arrange for one of the most knowledgeable English-speaking local guides to take you to this famed archeological site, explain its history and then take you to a great ceramics family of Atzompa.
Reservations and Cancellations
A 50% deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The final payment for the balance due (including any supplemental costs) shall be postmarked by August 1, 2011. Payment may be made by check or PayPal. We will be happy to send you an itemized invoice.
Please understand that we make lodging and transportation arrangements months in advance of the program. Deposits or payments in full are often required by our hosts. If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email. After August 1, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space or you may send a substitute. If you cancel on or before August 1, we will refund 50% of your deposit. We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.
To register, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (919) 274-6194. We accept payment with PayPal only. Thank you.
This workshop is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary and substitute instructors without notice.
Hand-colored sand becomes sculpture depicting Day of the Dead scenes at gravesites and public spaces; by Nick Eckert.
We had the pleasure of having accomplished Washington, D.C. photographer Nick Eckert with us on the 2011 Day of the Dead Photo Expedition. [We are now planning the 2012 expedition. Send me an email if you want to get on the notification list.]
Here are Nick’s Flickr shots of sand sculptures. These installations are painstakingly assembled by artists and artisans. They are hand-painted and colored and can take more than a day to build. In Oaxaca City, the sculptures were displayed at the plaza next to the Basilica de Soledad. They lined the street leading to the old cemetery in Xoxocotlan.
On our Day of the Dead Photography Expedition 2011, we had the pleasure of Nick Eckert’s company, good humor, photographic expertise complete with technical geekdom, and enthusiasm for the art and craft of photography. Nick is in Mexico City now for a walking photo tour but found the time to put this beautiful YouTube video together with perfect musical accompaniment from Bob Dylan, “Knockin’ on Heavens Door.”
Here you will experience the magic and mystery of Day of the Dead as celebrated in Xoxocotlan, Oaxaca, Mexico! Enjoy, compliments of Nick.
Join the waiting list for our 2012 Day of the Dead Expedition. Send me an email: email@example.com
In the Oaxaca village of Teotitlan del Valle, Dia de los Muertos is serene, low-key and beautiful. Here, it is celebrated at the cemetery on all Soul’s Day, November 2. At home, families light the copal incense burner to help the spirits of their loved ones find their way back to the grave. Then, they gather for a meal of traditional mole negro with chicken, rice, plenty of tortillas, beer and mezcal. At about 5:30 p.m. they make their way to the panteon for mass and to sit with the spirits of their ancestors.
The altar is a central part of each home. During Muertos, visitors come with offerings to the dead: chocolate, beer, candles, mescal, and bread. Photos of the loved ones who have died are prominently displayed along with their favorite foods.
The copal incense burner is a mystical part of the celebration. The church bells toll exactly at 3 p.m. Federico lights the incense. He and Dolores tend the fire to make certain it doesn’t go out, using a hand-held fan woven with plant fibers. The copal flames, aroma of incense, and smoke create a space of reverence and reflection.
Villagers come to the cemetery with brooms, buckets of flowers, the favorite fruits, nuts, and beverages of their loved ones, and begin to clean the grave sites and decorate them. Then they may sit in meditative prayer. Or, entire extended families may gather with a case of beer and the evening for them is festive and celebratory. The range of emotions in this small space is huge: from laughter and music to tears and keening.
There was far less ambient light and fewer candles at the Teotitlan del Valle cemetery than there was in Xoxocotlan. So it was very dark — difficult conditions for night photography even when I opened the aperture to its widest setting with the camera speed to 1600. I switched to manual mode but couldn’t see clearly through the viewfinder to even see if the shot was in focus! This was the best I could do!
Grainy and fuzzy. But don’t you love that purple sky? It was pitch black out and I could barely see those figures. Hopefully this gives you the sense of place.
Here, at the entrance to the cemetery the street light provided illumination on this old wooden cross.
And the tuba offered a mirror onto the world along with a self-portrait.
Neighborhoods have their own altars positioned at crossroads where people travel most. A green vase from Atzompa holds fresh marigolds, the aromatic flower of this season.
On November 2, all our our Day of the Dead Photography Expedition participants spent the day with a host family, shared the meal, and then accompanied them to the cemetery. Tonight, we have invited our host families to our Best of Week show that will feature photographs from Teotitlan del Valle.
Workshops, Retreats, Expeditions. We offer hands-on, in-depth educational programs and cultural immersion experiences with experts in their field who know how to teach. In small groups, limited to 10 people, you develop skills and explore your creativity with lots of personal attention. We pride ourselves on giving you an authentic, affordable learning experience that is safe and inviting. Come with us to discover Oaxaca as you deepen your knowledge and enrich your connection.
2007-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material is prohibited without express and written permission. Excerpts, photos and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC along with a link to the original content.