Día de los Muertos – Honoring the dead through art

Story and photos by Anna Karkalik

A woman dressed in a skeleton costume with a veil at Hollywood Forever's Dia De Los Muertos on Saturday.

The altar, dedicated to 15-year-old Genevieve Vargas, who committed suicide two weeks before the event, was decorated with photos of her, candles, and bright flowers at Día de los Muertos hosted at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Oct. 27.

“This day didn’t really mean anything before, we celebrated Halloween and it was always a big deal for us but we put her in the ground here on Tuesday and it sort of felt like we needed to hurry up,” said Genevieve’s mother Giselle Vargas. “So we gathered a lot of her favorite things and the flowers surrounding the painting her cousin made of her.”

The painting of Vargas was of her last year at the Hollywood Forever Día de los Muertos after she got her face painted.

Steven Cooper lights a candle for his stepdaughter Genevieve Vargas at Dia De Los Muertos at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Saturday.

Vargas’s stepdad Steven Cooper explains their family’s decision to bury Vargas in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

“She loved it here, she loved resting under big giant trees so we picked this place for her and you see a lot of family and friends around us tonight to celebrate her and celebrate her life,” Cooper said.

More than 90 altars were spread out through the cemetery each celebrating the life of loved ones or ancestors that have died.

A woman dressed in a traditional skeleton outfit dances as the smell of incense fills the air at the Hollywood Forever’s Dia De Los Muertos.

The bridge, leading to an altar display honoring Mexican singer Jenni Rivera, was covered with bright orange marigold flowers.

The altar was sponsored by Spotify and created by Ricardo Solero to commemorate her past musical achievements.

People dressed up in bright skeleton costumes, traditional Aztec clothing with elaborate headpieces, and traditional Mexican food was also featured throughout the day.

A woman gets her face painted at the Hollywood Forever’s Dia De Los Muertos on Saturday.

This year’s 19th annual event was themed Coatlicue “Mother of the Gods” with the cemetery streets paved with ofrendas and the smell of incenses burning from every altar filled the air.

“It’s a magical thing celebrating the dead with all the music, traditional costumes, and just being close with family,” said Elsie Delgado dressed in native Aztec clothing.

Music and dance performances were held throughout the day including the Aztec Circle on the Lake dance and ritual.