From candied calaveras to intricate traditional face paintings and costumes, OU’s annual Day of the Dead street festival never fails to bring a bright, dizzying celebration of culture to the University of Oklahoma community.
Artist and former OU student Eleazar Velazquez is hoping to be inspired by the beautiful, folkloric traditions as he paints in front festival attendees.
More than just a day of remembrance, the Mexican tradition Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Muertos is a vibrant celebration of life with many unique and festive customs that have inspired many forms of artistic expression. This year Velazquez is one of several artist-venders who will share his art with festivalgoers at the Oct. 31 event.
Born in the Mexican city of Guzman, Velazquez participates in events like the Day of Dead street festival to experience a piece of this own culture that he admits he doesn’t know that well.
Velazquez, who came with his family to the United States as a child, will sell original artwork and prints as well as paint live at the event. He was raised in Oklahoma City and is now an artist, educator and activist within the community.
“It’s a way for me to give back to my community,” says Velazquez of his involvement in the festival.
A self-taught artist, Velazquez’s abstract and anatomical art is inspired by a multitude of influences in his life. He attended OU as an undergrad in the architecture program, an experience he says has given him an appreciation for lines. He is also influenced by the work of greats like Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
He sees painting at the festival as a way to learn about and be inspired by the events the Day of the Dead. Student attendees too, says Velazquez, can take away from sharing in the cultural traditions different from their own.
“Everyone gains a little perspective that they can bring into the classroom and further into their lives.”
The event festivities are just a few examples of the many ways Sooners can be inspired by cultural events on campus.
Want to get involved in Hispanic cultural events at OU? Check out the Hispanic American Student Association site to find out how you can participate.
Want to know more about OU's Day of the Dead event? See an overview of OU's celebration of the Mexican holiday here and read about one more artist-vendor, Yoana Walschap, here.
All photos courtesy Eleazar Velazquez.