DIY Ofrendas: Altar Vision 2020

Appropriate for grades:
Subject areas: Visual and Performing Arts

During the annual celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico an elaborate collection of ofrendas (offerings) are placed in a ritual altar display to welcome deceased loved ones in a colorful reunion with the living. Global events like COVID-19 inspired contemporary Santa Fe, New Mexico Santero, Arthur Lopez to respond and process artistically what was going on around him to visually tell a story of this moment in time by creating Altar Vision 2020.

The kitchen sink becomes the new altar, its sanctity reinforced with hand sanitizer and soap. Saint Catherine of Siena, the patroness of health care, and San Roque, protector of victims of the plague, add further protection from the virus that is visible floating outside the kitchen window. The computer image of San Vicente de Zaragoza, patron saint of wine, signifies the new phenomenon of the virtual happy hour. The inclusion of a bottle of Corona beer plays on the misunderstood fear of the word corona which is Spanish for “crown.”

Lopez created a new saint image, La Santa Corona, pictured here with her coronavirus resplandor and protective mask, gloves, and gown. She was created in honor of health care workers and their dedication to help those who have suffered or succumbed to the virus. She adorns the top of the altar, reinforcing the safety and sanctity of home but ever present in case she is needed in this time of emergency. How did you feel, what did you miss and what were you thankful for during the pandemic? What will you create and place on your ofrenda to process your unique moment in time?

You'll need

  • colored poster board 11” x 15” or an empty cereal box
  • glue sticks and/or Tacky Glue (optional)
  • scissors
  • patterned & metallic paper
  • tissue paper
  • magazine or favorite images
  • pencils & colored markers
  • sequins & 20” ribbon



 A grouping of six images that showing the steps of how to make an ofrenda.


  1. Using a pre-cut poster board to design your ofrenda, fold the board in ½ half horizontally, then fold the ½ half into ¼ partitions.
  2. Use a pencil to sketch scalloped edges at the top of ½ one-half of the poster board, then outline with a marker; using scissors cut along the line. Fold the cut scallop over the un-cut board and trace, then cut.
  3. Now you’re ready to add magazine and personal images, patterned & metallic paper, tissue paper using glue stick, or Tacky Glue to design your ofrenda. Add sequins and other elements as desired.
  4. Use markers to write words that further tell your story along with the visual imagery.
  5. Puncture a hole in each side of the two (2) door flaps about half way up, in order to thread the ribbon (1/2 @ 10" each) through.
  6. Optional: Write a poem or paragraph to describe what you’re hopeful for in the future or how your life has changed in a positive way.





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