In collaboration with Mexic-Arte Museum, ACG has asked our beloved community to join us in a creative celebration of loved ones for Dia de Muertos through our Ofrendas project. Over the course of October we will be sharing the works of our community through this playlist. RSVP for the finale event on October 29th, here

Dia de Muertos celebrates the lives of our loved ones who have passed. Ofrendas are altars containing photos, gifts, food, offerings, and personal items of our loved ones as a way of inviting their spirits to join us in the celebration of their life. 

We have commissioned twenty Austin-based artists and have invited our staff, community members, and students to create ofrendas of their own and share their beautiful, touching, and inspirational work with us.

We had the privilege of speaking with one of our commissioned artists, Page Stephens, in greater depth about her connection to the project and the loved ones she is celebrating. 

“My first submission is a recording of “Here” from Mark Kilstofte’s song cycle The White Album with pianist Chuck Dillard. Chuck and I recorded the whole cycle at Furman University, where Kilstofte teaches, about a year ago. Kilstofte wrote the cycle after his father died; every song has to do with some stage of grief. “Here” is set to a poem by Erica Funkhouser and it’s about cleaning out a space after a loved one has died and moving to the next stage of life without them. 

The second piece is a recording of “Dormi, o fulmine di guerra,” a lullaby aria from Alessandro Scarlatti’s oratorio La Giuditta. Rick Rowley (harpsichord) and Ben Powell (violin) were kind enough to mask up and play with me.”

Page shared what this project meant to her and the people her work is celebrating.

“During this pandemic, I have felt so isolated from my friends and family. We couldn’t grieve together, or adequately celebrate anyone’s life the way they deserved. This project is a tiny opportunity to make up for the distance and honor the folks I lost this year.

‘Dormi’ is an ofrenda to celebrate three family friends and neighbors back home in Charlotte, NC: Doris Castevens, Mark Bloom and Scott Craig. They were part of my village and each one of them had an important hand in raising me. Doris and Mark had battled cancer for years, and Scott had battled addiction for most of his adult life. I chose a lullaby because after so many years of fighting, they deserve a rest. They were all exceptional humans.

“Here” is an offering to the families of these folks: the Castevens, the Blooms, and the Craigs. I want them to know they aren’t alone, and that they are loved. Sharing this recording also felt right because Chuck Dillard, who performed the piece with me, lost his husband, Doug, to cancer this summer, and I wanted to honor them, too.”

Sunday, October 11th, Page informed us of the loss of her godfather, Cliff Hammond. Our hearts at ACG go out to Page Stephens and her family. Page shared: 

Cliff was a ray of sunshine in a room. He meant the world to my parents, my sister and I. He was brilliant, caring, goofy as all get out, and loved ardently. I will miss him beyond belief. Since I can’t be near my godmother, Mary Anne, and my family to grieve together, I’m grateful that I can honor him with this project.”