Dinorah J. Peters
Dinorah is from Tamaulipas, a state in northeastern Mexico, where she learned how to make sugar skulls (calaveras) for the Day of the Dead. Dinorah states, “Sugar skulls are a playful way to both honor the dead and lovingly tease the living. The culinary traditions and food items placed on ofrendas differ from region to region, however representations of skeletons, either in cut paper designs (papel picado) or papier-mâché are universally present on the Day of the Dead ofrendas.” Dinorah came to the United States in her early twenties and worked for the Elmira City School District for many years.
Gloria is of Mexican descent and works for the Chemung Canal Trust Company as a teller and as a Mary Kay consultant. She volunteers for the Near Westside Neighborhood and Susan G. Komen Foundation. Daughter of Dinorah J. Peters, Gloria enjoys helping with the family tradition of making sugar skulls (calaveras) for Día de los Muertos each year. She is an expert at making paper flowers, and enthusiastically shares her family’s tradition with program participants. Sugar skulls and paper flowers have become a popular way to celebrate the Day of the Dead in our community.
Leonel Rosario & Dolores Alvarado
Leonel Rosario and Dolores Alvarado own and manage El Mariachi de Oro Mexican Grill in Medina, NY and Maizal Mexican Kitchen and Mezcaleria in East Amherst, NY. Both restaurants specialize in Oaxacan cuisine, bringing culture and tradition to your plate one bite at a time. Prior to owning these restaurants, Leonel was a farm worker in western New York. He and his family have lived in New York State for more than 20 years. Leonel comes from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, a region famous for their traditions, culture and food. Dolores is from the neighboring state of Guerrero. In Oaxaca, one of the most important traditions is Día de Los Muertos, or Todos Los Santos, as it is regionally called, where everybody celebrates with food and ofrenda building. Leonel and Dolores are also folkloric dancers, bringing their culture to people to enjoy and learn.
GLOW Traditions: Karen Canning & Antonio Cruz Zavaleta
GLOW Traditions operates collaboratively between the Arts Council for Wyoming County, Genesee Valley Council on the Arts, and Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council to support the region’s living cultural heritage. Director Karen Canning frequently collaborates with community and educational organizations local businesses and civic entities to document and present diverse folk arts of our region such as Hispanic holiday traditions, American folk music, world dance traditions, Native American arts, and occupational folklore. With grant support from GLOW, artist Antonio Cruz Zavaleta created the larger-than-life Oaxacan monos de calenda (street puppets) used in The Rockwell’s Day of the Dead celebration.
Bev Stevens is a retired foreign language teacher. She began her career at Alfred-Almond Central School where she taught Spanish and French. She spent most of her career teaching Spanish, French and Communication Arts at Corning Free Academy. She was active in the New York Association of Foreign Language Teachers (NYSAFLT) where she served as a director for the Southern Tier and Co-Chaired several Summer Institutes. She was a frequent presenter at NYSAFLT conferences. She has also made connections with Latino culture through her daughter who lived in Ecuador for two years and an Ecuadorian son-in-law. Bev volunteers for The Rockwell by teaching about the Day of the Dead celebration to third grade students in the Corning-Painted Post School District who are learning about Mexican history, culture and art. She also serves as a member for C-PP District’s Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA). Bev has been celebrating Día de los Muertos with students for over 30 years!
Shiana Tea Díaz
Shiana Tea Díaz shares her family’s traditions in the design and construction of the community ofrenda located in the KIDS ROCKWELL Art Lab. Shiana was born and raised in Torreón and studied in Monterrey, both in Northern Mexico, before moving to the United States to work for Siemens Energy. She has lived in the Corning area for a little over one year. Her family celebrates Day of the Dead by building ofrendas for beloved family members and friends who have died. The ofrendas are colorful and full of cempasúchil flowers, papel picado (cut paper), candles, pictures of the deceased, and samples of their favorite foods, drinks and items they enjoyed while alive. Friends and family members gather to visit the ofrendas and share food with each other.
We are proud to partner with CareFirstNY for our memory box project. CareFirstNY provides end-of-life support and resources for families going through the grieving process. Grief counselors are available to people in the community who may be dealing with the loss of a loved one. Everyone heals from grief in their own way, and CareFirstNY stands ready to provide expertise and direct support so each aching heart can find a way to mend. Visit www.carefirstny.org for more information.
Brooke Munoz-Halm has been working as a freelance makeup artist for the last several years. In 2018 and 2019’s Dia de los Muertos activities, she portrayed La Catrina for the Rockwell Museum. During years prior, she worked as the makeup artist for the previous La Catrina, her mother, Vivian Munoz-Halm. Brooke graduated from Corning-Painted Post High School in 2018 and is now a business major at SUNY Corning. Brooke is known for her love of environmental sustainability. She also enjoys traveling, dogs, and visiting her family in Puerto Rico.
Mercedes is a retired Spanish teacher formerly from Ernie Davis Academy. She has been living in the United States for over 30 years and teaching Spanish at all levels for over 20 years. She grew up in Sonora, Mexico, and her grandmother was a Yaqui Indian. Some of the Dia de los Muertos traditions that Mercedes grew up with came from her Yaqui grandmother. The Yaqui Indians are an indigenous culture from the state of Sonora. The Yaqui have slightly different Dia de los Muertos traditions from other Mexican groups. They build rustic tapancos, or tables, made of bamboo and woven into a reed-like top that is used to hold gifts for the dead. Like other Mexican groups, the Yaqui put out the favorite foods and drinks of the dead, as well as candles to light their path.