During the 10th annual Muertos Fest, a Día de Muertos celebration in San Antonio, individuals and groups were invited to build ofrendas (altars) in remembrance of the friends and family they have lost in their lives. This year, 80 ofrendas were set up for display throughout the Hemisfair area downtown, including two for the victims of the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting.
While there were a handful of ofrendas featuring famous icons like artist Frida Kahlo, most had a personal connection between the altar creators and those they were honoring. Builders also took the time to hang around and answer questions from festivalgoers about the inspiration behind their artwork and to tell stories about their departed loved ones.
There were stories about grandfathers and grandmothers who died within months of each other; children diagnosed with cancer who fought alongside their parents to the very end; and an altar for a late street performer in San Antonio known as Hispanic Elvis.
Then, there were two altars dedicated to the 19 fourth graders and two teachers who were killed in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, last May. One of the altars was created by art students at a San Antonio high school and included a desk for each of the children, their photo, and some of their favorite things like art supplies, sports equipment, and dinosaur toys.
The desk for 10-year-old student Maite Rodriguez featured a pair of green Converse sneakers, the same shoes she often wore to school.
A second altar was created by family members of the victims (an image of it can be seen at the end of the video above). Along with photos of each of the children and bouquets of marigolds, the ofrenda included a chalkboard with the words, “Forever in fourth grade.”