November 1, 2022

The DEI Download: Dia De Los Muertos Exhibit

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Episode Highlights

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For National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Hirewell team took a trip to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, Chicago. They got to enjoy a Dia De Los Muertos tour exhibit filled with beautiful art and a number of altars honoring the loved ones of the artists. Jill and Robyn talk about their experience at the museum and the impact it had on them. It was a wonderful learning experience for all!

Happy Dia De Los Muertos!

Episode Transcript

Hi! Welcome back to the DEI download. We interrupt the regular programming schedule I laid out for some seasonally appropriate videos on some events that the DEI committee put together. I’m Robyn Carney, the DEI lead here at Hirewell and this is Jill Dreisilker. I am a recruiter at Hirewell and also part of the DEI committee. Yes, we’re super excited to be here today talking about a recent event that we did.

This is one of those things where it was kind of many things rolled into one. So we have been trying to think outside the box in terms of having company events that are not happy hours so that people can attend if they don’t feel like drinking. So variations on that and then also like events where we can have family attend, have either children or spouses come along and hang out and do things.

And it was kind of like a perfect storm moment where we realized that for National Hispanic Heritage Month, we could have a tour of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, in Chicago. Where we could open it up to basically anybody who wanted to come. So I was very excited to do that.

I was like, let’s get into it. We got a group of people together. Some family members got to come as well, which was great. It’s always cool to meet, coworkers’ family. Because of where National Hispanic Heritage Month lies during the year, September 15th until October 15th, it’s actually really close to Dia de Los Muertos, which this video is about. So the museum had a specific exhibit on Dia de Los Muertos and that is the tour that we decided to go on.

We were very excited about it. Me particularly, I always love hearing a little bit more about Dia de Los Muertos and like seeing all the different celebrations and aspects. For those of you who do not know, Dia de Los Muertos is a holiday celebrated in Mexico on November 1st. It’s about celebrating and honoring the deceased loved ones. And the tour was fantastic. I loved it. I’ll admit right here and now that I was definitely in what I like to call mom mode. So I was making sure everybody was there, everybody was hydrated, everybody was having a good time. So I didn’t get to experience the tour as- I got to experience the tour, obviously.

But I was definitely a little paying attention to everybody else on the group rather than the tour itself. So I have brought Jill in to talk about her experience on the tour because she was one of the attendees. So Jill, let’s talk about it. Let’s do it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, thanks Robyn.

So let’s start. Had you ever been to the museum before? No, no, I have not. National Museum of Mexican Art I think might be my new favorite place. I was really impressed. I had no idea that it existed in Pilsen and they did such an amazing job of just the traveling, the movie exhibit.

I’m not sure exactly what they call it, but I thought that the Dia de los Muertos was so impactful, so powerful. I’m just really grateful that we got to experience that, and that was my first time and I loved it. I loved it. I love that you loved it. I also loved that I got to- there were a few people who had never been, and it’s one of my favorite museums in Chicago.

And I try to go because- for those of you who are watching this video in Chicago and haven’t been, definitely go. They have a permanent exhibit that’s always there, but then they’ll have like a seasonal exhibit. We’re such histor- art historians. We know what we’re talking about like when it comes to museums.

But it’s always very beautiful and impactful. There was another exhibit there about Frida Kahlo, I believe. Mm-hmm. And it’s also, it’s very quick. You can go through the whole museum in a couple hours depending on how you appreciate art. But yeah, it was beautiful.

I had never been to a tour about Dia de Los Muertos alters before. So like my understanding of Dia Los Muertos like definitely comes from taking classes about Mexican history in college. So it’s very different, you know? So like seeing kind of all the different exhibits was very interesting.

Of course I loved learning a little bit about the culture in history, but Jill, what was your favorite thing about it, I guess? Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to say just one thing because there was so much just the entire time, the whole tour. Each exhibit was just kind of took your breath away a little bit.

They all were so unique. They were so different. They were so unique and you could tell that they were extremely special to the artist. The amount of detail and time and just creativity and thoughtfulness that went into each exhibit was just, it was almost like overwhelming. Like, Oh my goodness, how long did this take you?

But I think that was also my, I’ve always found Dia de Los Muertos something that I’ve just always gravitated towards because of just how culturally rich that holiday is and it means so much. And you can tell that, you know, when it is celebrated, there’s just so much depth to it. And I feel like going through these different exhibits and seeing how different each artist and each person’s interpretation of the holiday and the altar and showcasing the person that they built it for was- I couldn’t believe it.

It just was so, so amazing. I think just the first, when we first walked in the room that was painted all black about gun violence and we’re at a point where there are too many names to write down. And that was- that hit me so hard when we first walked in because that was the first thing.

And our tour guide did a really amazing job on explaining everything. And it was just, it was hard to look past that. But I think that they set the tone for, they did a great job of setting the tone for the rest of the tour. So that one was really impactful. And then the Rob Elementary one. I’m going try not to get emotional, but that- that hit, that hit hard.

Getting emotional. And this is exactly what I did. I cried when I first saw the exhibit because it was so powerful. And seeing like the tiny little vests and their books and just all of the kids and the way that the artist presented was just- I mean, literally took my breath away.

I had to kind of step back and inhale, exhale because it was just so, you can, you felt, you felt it so intensely like the pain and the anguish and the suffering that went into that. And it was, I’ve never experienced something like that. But then on the other side of that, there was still this kind of lightness I guess, of like almost like peace

just the way that the artist was able to portray the teachers and they were watching over the students and protecting them. And it was just all of the emotions. So I just thought that that artist just did such a phenomenal job on really bringing like the gravity and the weight of what these families have to suffer through.

And families are still suffering through literally just the other day. So that one was, that one really hit me. Hit me hard. But again, the artist just do such a beautiful job of interacting and keeping you engaged that it was powerful. It was powerful. Yeah. I know you weren’t the only person to cry.

I remember I like looked over to talk to somebody and they were just like tears. Yeah. I won’t name names because they’re not here to talk about it. Yeah. But it was very touching and beautiful. And some of the alters were- to give context, it was a variety of altars that were created.

Some for specific people, some for specific events. For example, there was one about the war in Ukraine. Each one had been created by a person or a team who had like really thought out, thinking about the specific situation like Rob Elementary and like putting together an altar. It was really, it was really beautiful and very impactful.

The one that I had finally been able to settle down and like actually like start participating in the tour was the one to the history of cinematic figures, where it was all in black and white. And I just thought it was really powerful in a lot of ways because these are cultural icons and the names are escaping me because of course they are. But there was a video replaying the scenes and then there was art of each scene where it was in black and white and the actor who was being immortalized was depicted as a skeleton, which was just, it was beautiful because it was huge.

It took up like an entire wall and it was just like a slice of like history and it was great to kind of see like cultural icons remembered in a different way. So it was kind of interesting because they were in this, they were on opposite sides of the same hall and they were talking about extremely different topics but they were both very impactful in a lot of different ways. Yeah. That one was beautiful. That was really cool. I think it was- I appreciated the artists that- it’s almost like even though that they’re altars and were in a museum, you kind of felt like, you felt it was almost like interactive, you know?

They were so huge. I mean, the cinema one, I mean, it went up to this- I mean, they all went up to the ceiling, like floor to ceiling, and it was so captivating. Your whole focus was on that. You were not, you’re not thinking about anything else, like just the history behind it and the importance.

And you can tell that these artists, that this is their value. This is what they love, this is what they enjoy, this is what they cherish. And just being able to celebrate the people that made such an impact in that culture just says a lot to how important this holiday is, how important these practices are.

Just, it’s impressive. Really impressive. Yeah. Yeah. And I loved it. I also loved- by the end of the tour, the last room was kind of more about individual people. And the last exhibit was about the pandemic. And we had gotten to that point, we’d been talking about remembering important people either in our personal lives or people we didn’t know who had passed away.

And at that point, the guide asked us if we wanted to go to the courtyard, which not everybody was allowed to do, which normally elementary school kids would go to in order to put up notes and messages for their own loved ones. And I think at that point that was like really interesting because you know, I’m sitting there, I’m thinking about the loved ones I’ve lost. And then I’m looking at this board of like kids trying to

identify like their own feelings of like- it was just really, it was a really interesting way to end the tour and I really enjoyed it and I’m really glad we got to go. It was a lot of fun. Yeah. I learned a lot I think. And I love a situation where I learn a lot. Right. Yeah. I think that last part was- and I think just in general with the different kinds of altars and different people, like there was one that

the sister lost her brother to suicide and just the individuals you know that to highlight. But I think that the courtyard where the kids wrote their loved ones that they were cherishing, it just goes to show that everyone experiences

death and loss in a different way, you know. And there’s so many different ways to celebrate. And it could be even though, we got to read some of the notes that were there. And some of them were- of course started crying all over again. But some of them were just like just really sweet and innocent and kind of funny.

But I think that just really did a great way of summarizing the whole exhibit. And that no matter what, everyone has their own experiences with it and they can express it in different ways and there’s no right or wrong, good or bad way to express that but then also to celebrate past loved ones. There was an exhibit towards the end that was purposefully created to be viewed from the point of view of the people who have passed away.

So the altar was upside down on the ceiling. Yes. Because that is the way that- it’s kind of like interesting that way of like, it’s not just remembrance, but about reaching across, which I find really interesting and beautiful in a way.

Yeah. Yeah. And then of course we got to go out and eat afterwards, which was always great. If you haven’t been to restaurants in Pilsen, like please check out a few of the restaurants in Pilsen. They’re really great. And thank you to- thank you to Nia and her sister for just ordering the best items

because the food was excellent. Yes, yes. It was great. It was like, Nia, please take the wheel and order whatever you think is good because I- that chicken was like the best chicken I’ve ever had and it was not what I was going to order initially, but Nia I was like, “you should get- this is what I’m getting”

I’m still thinking about those quesadillas that, that- I don’t even know what they, those were not any sort of quesadillas I’ve ever had in my life. With that sauce, it was really good. It was really good. But it was also, yeah, and it was just really fun to kind of just like regroup after, because we all were experiencing- even though we were all together at the museum, each of us was having our own

experience like individually, which I thought was like really moving. And even though you were, being mom, that still also played a huge part in that overall experience, because if it wasn’t you, it probably would’ve been me but- there’s always somebody who has to step up and be the mom.

Someone has to. Someone has to. But I just thought it was, I mean of course, so appreciative that you put this together, but I just thought it was just really cool to experience that. So powerfully and it was so impactful. And then being able to regroup with our group at the end, and just talk about it and share our favorite parts and, you know, and here we are still keeping the conversation going. And I think that awareness is of course a huge thing with what we try to do with DEI, but also just experiencing it and continuing to have

those moments, and I just thought it was just really cool. Yeah. I mean, I thought it was great because it was a lot of- first of all, I’d like to thank everybody who came. I was really worried nobody would be interested, and I’d be like, “Oh, okay. I guess we’ll do something else then.” But it was really interesting because I’ve been like kind of trying to figure out ways to make sure that everybody feels included and sure, this was in Chicago. So a lot of-

you know, half our company is not in Chicago. So that was kind of unfortunate. So trying to figure out ways that we can do things together, learn together, have activities together that are like a little different than the typical like happy hour situation, which there’s nothing wrong with a happy hour.

I’m pretty sure we had drinks at dinner. We did. We did. But like changing the conversation a little bit. And also I had forgotten how much I love going to museums with other people. I usually go with like one or two other people because if I’m by myself, I like have a very different- I read all the, I read all the cards.

I like take my time. I like to jump around a lot too. So being with a group of people and being like, “Okay, what did you think about that exhibit? Okay, what did you think about that?” it was really great and really interesting and I also just loved that museum. We took some time at the end where we already had access to the museum because it’s a free museum.

So we were already on the tour. And I got to see some of my favorites in the permanent exhibit. When you walk into the permanent exhibit, there’s this huge like realistic painting of a mountain range. And it’s just like, it’s so beautiful and it has the figures in front of the mountain range that the mountain range are like of.

I think it’s like a warrior and a maiden, which it’s like really cool to see that. And I love that painting. So whenever I go, I’m just like I gotta take a minute to just enjoy this. So it was really cool to see it with everybody. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. We’re always happy to talk more about this trip, but we have to get back to that recruiting hustle and bustle.

So we’ll be signing off now. Stay tuned for more DEI Download episodes where I’ll be talking about kind of like the continuation of how we are trying to improve DEI, both here at Hirewell and with our clients. So those will be coming up. Thank you again so much Jill, for joining the tour and for joining me today.

I really appreciate it. Well, thanks for having me. Yeah. I’m a new huge fan of that museum and I’m grateful to have been a part of that. And of course, grateful to be able to share our experiences and in hopes that we inspire other people to go check out that beautiful, beautiful museum.

Oh, please do and let us know if you like it in the comments, I guess. So please like and subscribe if you’re watching on our YouTube channel. Follow if you’re watching on our Talent Insights website or if you’re on LinkedIn, just follow whoever posted this. I bet you they’re great. So have a lovely day! Yay. Bye.

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