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Dia de los Muertos Submissions – due 9/2/11

Call for Altars: Adorned in Memories,Written in Stone

Burton Barr Central Library is seeking proposals for artist-made altars inspired by Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) for its @Central Gallery, located on the first floor. The eleventh annual “Día de los Muertos” exhibit will be on display from Oct. 24 – Nov. 5 2011.

In anticipation of Arizona’s centennial in February 2012, this year’s exhibit is titled, “Adorned in Memories, Written in Stone.” The title is evocative of the ways generations of Arizonans have honored the memories of their loved ones in their hearts and in public spaces. In keeping with this theme, artists are asked to reflect upon their subject’s place in the mosaic that is Arizona history. The memories of the lives of Arizona’s daughters and sons, native and adopted, their loves, their causes, and heart aches, formed the past and shaped the future.


Arizona residents 18 years or older may submit a proposal for consideration.

While non-traditional altars will be considered, all altars submitted should reflect the theme and traditions of Día de los Muertos.

Up to 10 proposals will be selected for exhibition by library staff. Due to limited space, not all proposals will be accepted.

Altars must be freestanding, no more than 3 feet deep by 4 feet long and no taller that 8½ feet; you must supply a table or base for your altar. Anything placed on the floor must be contained within the 3 foot by 4 foot area to avoid creating a tripping hazard.

Only artificial food may be used and no burning incense or open flame (lit candles) will be allowed. Battery operated candles are a nice substitution.

Please do not include valuable or irreplaceable items.

Nothing may be taped, pinned or nailed to the gallery walls or ceiling. Any part of your altar that needs to hang must be suspended from the hanging rail located a few inches from the ceiling.

Artists must install and remove their altar on the dates indicated below and bring all supplies and tools needed to create/dismantle their altar.


  • Submission Deadline: Friday, Sept. 2.
  • Artist Notification: Friday, Sept. 23.
  • Installation Date: Saturday, Oct. 22.
  • Exhibit Dates: Oct. 24 – Nov. 5
  • Deinstallation/Removal Date: Sunday, Nov. 6

How to Apply:

  • Please submit a written description (200 words or less) of your proposed altar. Your description should include your reason for creating the altar, the items you will place on it and how it relates to this year’s theme.
  • At the top of the page, include your name, complete mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address.
  • Photographs and/or sketches may be included and are encouraged.
  • The submission fee is $5 payable to the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library (check or money order only).
  • Mail or deliver your proposal to: @Central Gallery, Burton Barr Central Library, Third Floor 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004
  • For additional information or questions, call 602-262-4636 or e-mail

About Día de los Muertos:

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated in Mexico on Nov. 1 and 2. It is a complex tradition that varies from region to region with roots in ancient Aztec religion. It is a festive occasion set aside to honor, remember and celebrate the lives of departed loved ones.

Customarily, altars are constructed in the home to honor deceased loved ones. The altars are often elaborately decorated and include photographs and flowers as well as food and objects that the departed loved one enjoyed in life. Nov. 1, Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels), is traditionally reserved for the remembrance of children who have passed away. In some regions of Mexico, Día de los Muertos is a three-day celebration beginning Oct. 31.

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