An Exhibition from Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG), Los Angeles

October 18–December 13, 2018

Thursday, October 18, 5pm–8pm

Public Reception & Presentation by Betty Avila

Presentation begins @ 5:30pm in LI148 (next to gallery)

*Catered, Free and Open to Public*

»» Related Community Events

MSUB’s Northcutt Steele Gallery features Día de los Muertos: A Cultural Legacy, Past, Present & Future, an exhibition of prints, photographs, and artifacts on loan from Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG) beginning October 18. This exhibition traces the evolution of the Día de los Muertos celebration that emerged from SHG, a community-based workshop established in Los Angeles in 1970 and documents a rich multi-decade history of art-making and community-building associated with the organization.

In 1974, SHG staged the now nationally recognized East Los Angeles Día de los Muertos event. Traditionally held on November 1 & 2,  Día de los Muertos has its origins in Mexico and was originally conceived as a one-time event by the organization. The following year the community demand was so great that SHG decided to continue sponsorship. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the East Los Angeles Día de los Muertos commemoration blossomed into a three-day event that attracted national attention and inspired many communities.

The community event accomplished some of SHG’s goals by educating East Los Angeles residents about their heritage, introducing them to the creative processes involved in art, and ultimately, helping to build a stronger community. By 1985, the Día de los Muertos celebration had become so popular among residents of East Los Angeles that the program could be sustained without primary support of SHG. With assurance that others would take up the responsibility for planning and organizing the event, SHG was able to take a secondary role in staging the celebration and to devote more time and energy to the primary reason behind its founding: furthering Chicano Art and providing a training ground for aspiring Chicano artists.

SHG has now developed an international reputation for the exceptional quality of screen-prints produced at its facility and for the exhibitions at its gallery. The organization remains one of the most important centers in the country for training Chicana/o and Latina/o artists.

The exhibition on loan from SHG will be accompanied by a traditional Día de los Muertos ofrenda or altar prepared by MSUB students enrolled in this fall's Hispanic Traditions class taught by Dr. Rebecca Berru-Davis. Additionally, MSUB Alumna and Billings-based artist Jane Waggoner Deschner will be exhibiting photographic work and an interactive, hands-on installation titled Smile! A Materialization that is inspired by the celebration.

On Thursday, October 18, Betty Avila, Co-Director of SHG, will offer an overview of the 50-year history of Day of the Dead at SHG and will consider how its continued ripple effects are deeply rooted in community-based practices, despite the mass commercialization of the holiday. Avila’s free, public presentation is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Montana.

Día de los Muertos: A Cultural Legacy, Past, Present & Future originated as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. For more information visit:

The Northcutt Steele Gallery is located on the first floor of the Liberal Arts on the Montana State University Billings campus. The gallery, which is supported in part by funds from ASMSUB (Associated Students of MSUB) is open Monday – Friday from 8:00am – 4:00 pm. For more information visit

Funding for this exhibition and programming is provided by the MSUB Foundation, Humanities Montana, MSUB Program in Modern
Languages, MSUB Department of Art, MSUB Office of International Studies, and ASMSUB.

Humanities Montana logo

»» Download Exhibition Poster

Wayne Healy, Transcendental Love, 2006

Wayne Healy, Transcendental Love, 2006, Silkscreen Print, 26”x 20”.

Leonard Castellanos, Día de los Muertos

Leonard Castellanos, Día de los Muertos, 1976, Serigraph, 28.5” x 22.5”.

Sonia Romero, Untitled, 2015, 3D Print and Laser Cut on Hand Painted Wood

Sonia Romero, Untitled, 2015, 3D Print and Laser Cut on Hand Painted Wood, 12” x 12” x 1.5”. 

For media inquiries and more images contactLeanne Gilbertson, Director of Northcutt Steele Gallery,; (406) 657-2903.