Oct. 9, 2018


Wayne Healy, Transcendental Love


MSUB’s Northcutt Steele Gallery reveals new exhibit from SHG

Día de los Muertos: A Cultural Legacy, Past, Present and Future



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS—The Northcutt Steele Gallery at Montana State University Billings features Día de los Muertos: A Cultural Legacy, Past, Present & Future, an exhibition of prints, photographs, and ephemera on loan from Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG) beginning Oct. 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.


Leonard Castellanos, Día de los Muertos
On Thursday, Oct. 18 at 5:30 p.m., 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 presentation will be next to the gallery in Library room 148 and is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Montana. This catered reception is free and open to the public.


In 1974, SHG staged the now nationally-recognized East Los Angeles Día de los Muertos. Traditionally held on November 1 and 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 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.


Sonia Romero, Untitled
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 inspired by the celebration. This exhibition will be on display until Dec. 13, 2018.


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: www.selfhelpgraphics.com/dia-de-los-muertos.


The Northcutt Steele Gallery is located on the first floor of the Liberal Arts building 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 through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit www.msubillings.edu/gallery or www.facebook.com/northcuttsteelegallery.


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

Image Credits from top:

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

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, 12” x 12” x 1.5”.