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The Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico, Central America and in many Latino communities in the U.S. as a way to honor deceased family and friends by creating altars or ofrendas.

This altar, An Ofrenda for Dolores del Rio by Amalia Mesa-Bains (1984, revised 1991), is currently on view in the exhibition “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Mesa-Bains created this work to honor Dolores del Rio, the Mexican actress who dazzled audiences in the United States and Mexico from the 1920s until her death in 1983. More about this piece and the life of del Rio from our American History Museum