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Making Connections

Though the painting process has only just begun, the Ofrendas project is well underway in spirit at Austin High School. Students have been speaking with their families and working hard to come up with a meaningful plan for their ofrendas. Almost every student has chosen to honor a family member, which makes the experiences at Austin very personal and touching.

The students at Austin can choose to paint their crates in a wide selection of colors. Their color choice has to somehow connect with the subject of their ofrenda.

The students at Austin can choose to paint their crates in a wide selection of colors.

Mr. Brobeck explains to his students where to paint on their crates.

Mr. Brobeck explains to his students where to paint on their crates.

Mr. Brobeck has taken great care to explain to the students the logistics of the project – it must be mounted horizontally, the inside should be decorated rather than the outside – but many of the students are still looking for that pop of inspiration to take their ofrendas to that next level. Communicating with their families and getting to know the ancestor they are honoring is so important. As the project continues each student will hopefully learn more about their ancestor and find those important connections to their own heritage. These connections are what makes this project so meaningful.

As the crate painting commenced, it was interesting to see the colors the students chose. Some were quite literal, painting camouflage because their grandpa liked to hunt. Others were more subjective, choosing aqua because their grandmother’s favorite place to go was the beach, and they think she would be drawn to that color.

Students are taking great care in choosing their colors and painting a beautiful first coat.

Students are taking great care in choosing their colors and painting a beautiful first coat.

Over the next few weeks the young artists at Austin High School will work diligently to find those emotional connections while painting, gluing, shaping and assembling their honorary shrines. By next week the crates will have transformed into colorful memorials intended to draw in the spirits of the deceased, and the artists will begin working on their artistic statements, explaining every choice they’ve made. This is when the project really gets exciting and students really connect to the work they are doing!

The first coat has been applied to this ofrenda.

The first coat has been applied to this ofrenda.